The benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness is the innate ability we all have to focus our attention on our experience in the present moment.
Being grounded in the present tends to have the effect of naturally reducing our levels of stress, anxiety and tension. It also enables us to open up to the richness of our everyday experience – to “wake up and smell the roses”.
Even though it’s a natural ability, it’s often not that easy to access. We have all developed the habit of getting caught up in our thoughts, whether about things that have happened in the past, or about scenarios we imagine might happen in the future. It’s not easy to “switch off” the worrying mind, and the more we try to do so, often the more powerful our thoughts seem to become.
In fact you don’t need to try to switch off or empty your mind. Mindfulness is definitely not about creating an absence of thoughts. Rather it is about being with your experience in a fuller, more aware way and bringing yourself back into the present moment, over and over again, using a range of practices such as following the breath, the body scan or in movement.
This is where mindfulness meditation practice or training comes in and there are many routes these days to learning mindfulness – from books and CDs, to online videos and to courses. What they all have in common is inviting you to choose a point of focus such as the breath or physical sensations in the body or awareness of an activity such as walking or eating.
If you are keen to get a good grounding in mindfulness which will set you up well for ongoing practice and which will help you to gain the most benefits, then the 8 week MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course delivered either in a group situation or one to one has been well researched and found to be highly effective.
I offer the MBSR course in Guildford, Surrey or individual tuition and you can find more details here.
If you’d like more in-depth information on the researched benefits of Mindfulness go here.
Photo credit: Autumn Birch by James Jordan on Flickr