what is mindfulness

What is Mindfulness?

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now, without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”
James Baraz

Mindfulness is about being fully aware of whatever is happening in the present moment, without filters or the lens of judgement. It can be brought to any situation. Put simply, mindfulness consists of cultivating awareness of the mind and body and living in the here-and-now. While mindfulness as a practice is historically rooted in ancient Buddhist meditative disciplines, it’s also a universal practice that anyone can benefit from.

Today, mindfulness has expanded beyond its spiritual roots, even beyond psychology and mental and emotional wellbeing. Physicians are prescribing training in mindfulness practice to help people deal with stress, pain and illness. Mindfulness has entered the mainstream in the West and is exerting an influence in a wide variety of contexts, including medicine, neuroscience, psychology, education and business.

Our true home is not in the past. Our true home is not in the future. Our true home is in the here and now. Life is available only in the here-and-the-now, and it’s our true home.

Mindfulness is the energy that helps us recognise the conditions of happiness that are already present in our lives. You don’t have to wait ten years to experience this happiness. It’s present in every moment of your daily life. There are those of us who are alive but don’t know it. When you breathe in, and you are aware of your in-breath, you touch the miracle of being alive. That is why mindfulness is a source of happiness and joy.

Many people are forgetful; they are not really there a lot of the time. Their mind is caught in their worries, their fears, their anger and their regrets and they are not mindful of being there. That state of being is called forgetfulness – you are there but you and not there. You are caught in the past or in the future. You are not there in the present moment, living your life deeply. That is forgetfulness.

The opposite is mindfulness. Mindfulness is when you are truly there, mind and body together. You breathe-in and out mindfully, you bring your mind back to your body, and you are there. When your mind is there with your body, you are established in the present moment. Then you can recognise the many conditions of happiness that are in you and around you, and happiness just comes naturally.

What does the research say about the benefits of the course?

Studies over many years, as well as patients’ anecdotal reports show that the MBSR course has many benefits. These include (although are not limited to) fewer and less severe physical symptoms and greater self-confidence, optimism and assertiveness.

People also report more patience and accepting of themselves and their disabilities, as well as more confident in their ability to handle physical and emotional pain. They are also less anxious and less angry. They feel more in control, even in stressful situations that previously would have sent them spinning our-of-control.

Although people are often referred to the MBSR course to learn how to cope better with anxiety and relax, it’s often the case that this is simply the beginning of the benefits they experience.

Further information on the benefits of the program can be found here