WHAT IS MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present in the now, aware of how we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive, distracted or overwhelmed by what’s going on in or around us.
We are all mindful some of the time, but we can choose to develop this innate ability through practice. Being mindful does not necessarily involve meditation, but for most people, a form of meditation is required to strengthen our intention to be more present.
Mindfulness therefore commonly refers to a practice that individuals and groups can do on a day-to-day basis. Practicing mindfulness helps us to learn how to direct our attention to what is happening right here, right now, with an attitude of kindness, curiosity and openness. This helps us to develop a deeper awareness and understanding of ourselves and over time develop a deeper sense of love and compassion for self, others, the environment and society in general. Jon Kabit Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction has a lovely phrase “you can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf”. With regular practice, mindfulness can help us surf the inevitable tides of life and live our life more fully.
The only time we ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything or express any feeling or emotion or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. We are only here now, we are only alive in this moment
Latest research on mindfulness
A significant amount of scientific research has been carried out in relation to the benefits of mindfulness based interventions. Some studies are well designed and stand up to rigorous scrutiny while others are more questionable.
We have only begun to scratch the surface in terms of our scientific understanding on how practicing mindfulness positively affects our physical and mental wellbeing. There is some clinical evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of mindfulness in addressing recurrently depression but it would be it would be misleading to claim that mindfulness training is a panacea.
A lot more research is required and as with anything, we should be wary of catchy headlines which promise immediate and guaranteed results. That said, there is a significant body of scientific evidence which has been gathered over the last 30 years by some of the most well respected universities and institutions outlining the benefits of mindfulness practices.