Mindfulness has been practised and developed for thousands of years, and its benefits have been validated by the latest scientific research into neuroplasticity, that is, the ability of the brain to change.
We can now witness what happens in the brain during mindfulness meditation, and we can understand how such a deceptively simple method has the potential to bring about many lasting positive changes in our day to day lives.
A Definition of Mindfulness
“Awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
Mindfulness has become an increasingly popular concept in health care and psychology, based on clinical trials which have shown its effectiveness in helping people deal with stress in a wide range of settings. But what exactly is it, and how can we use it to help us in daily life?
Mindfulness is a skill which, once learnt, and when practiced regularly, has the potential to enhance all aspects of our lives, including our working lives. It is not a magical quick fix, but neither is it just the latest fad.
Mindfulness begins when we recognise the tendency to be on automatic pilot and commit to learning how best to step out of it and become aware of each moment. (Segal, Williams, Teasdale)
By shifting from automatic pilot to awareness, we disengage from our habitual patterns
With practice, we can learn to experience happiness and peace of mind which can be independent of external conditions
Benefits of Mindfulness
The regular practice of mindfulness meditation has been shown in studies to have a number of health and personal benefits, including:
- Increased calm, concentration, clarity, equanimity
- Improved cognitive functioning
- Increased self regulation, empathy, compassion: a flexible and friendly mind
- Improved relationships
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased immune response
- Increased capacity for appreciation
- Decreased suffering – working SKILFULLY with emotional and physical pain
- Increased insight, helping with psycho-spiritual development
- Enhanced creativity
- Increased self attunement – becoming ones “own best friend”