Why mindfulness and what is mindfulness?

Why Mindfulness?

There is immense excitement about mindfulness in many areas of life, including the workplace, and for good reason. In October 2015 the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group  produced its recommendations for bringing mindfulness into the workplace in its Mindful Nation Report. So why the high profile and all the interest?

Broad benefits

Research and practical experience have shown that mindfulness has helped people in a number of really significant areas, including:

  • well-being  (including overall mood and outlook)
  • resilience  (including adaptability, equanimity and emotional regulation)
  • cognitive functioning  (eg clarity, objectivity, decision making, concentration)
  • emotional intelligence  (including self-awareness & interpersonal skills)
  • effectiveness and productivity

In fact, it can have a potentially profound and enhancing impact on all aspects of one’s life – increasing insight, wisdom and engagement with life.

Positive brain changes and health improvements

Neuroscience research has demonstrated positive changes in the brain structure and functioning in regular meditators.  Mindfulness has also been demonstrated to have a beneficial impact on the immune system, on blood pressure and on symptoms related to ageing.

Specific areas where improvements have been seen

People have experienced improvements in the following*:

self-awareness, cognition, clarity, emotion/ impulse regulation,  objectivity, decision-making, strategic thinking, resilience, equanimity, listening skills, noticing, compassion, empathy, open-mindedness, tolerance, lower blood pressure, well-being (less stress, better health), sleep, calm, different/ wider perspective, outlook, contentment, self-esteem, focus, concentration, memory, comfort with change and ambiguity, appreciation, creativity, innovation, curiosity, wisdom, authenticity, intuition.

*These have been researched and evidenced

You can read more about mindfulness research here.

An important note:

Attend mindfulness training with an open mind and see it as an ongoing journey, not a quick fix.  It is something that can only be understood over time in an embodied and experiential way.

Ways in which people have benefitted are listed above to give you some sense of how mindfulness has been useful to people.  However when attending a training it is important to let go of any expectations as best you can.

The training is in being present with what is here right now.  Therefore mindfulness is non-striving.  Any ‘gains’ are more like by-products, which emerge in their own time.

The important instruction is to ‘let go of any ideas of how it should be and just do it’.

Accessing individual insights

Some of the changes you may experience from mindfulness can have a universal quality.  But many will be highly individual.  Mindfulness increases self-awareness.  This in turn gives you access to tailored insight, understanding, learnings and shifts.

“The heart of mindfulness meditation is the development of wisdom – a deepening understanding of ourselves and life…..It is profound understanding that liberates us from the constraints of habit, conditioning and limitation.”Christina Feldman

Tapping into your inner resources

Mindfulness cultivates innate capacities.  It enables you to get in touch with that which is already in you and which is useful.  This includes awareness, curiosity, kindness, discernment.  These qualities are powerful for operating wisely in relation to yourself, others and your environment.

Shifts arise naturally.  They are not forced or ‘learnt’.  With repeated practice you get trait change, not just temporary state change.  Mindfulness is a way of being, not a skill.  It helps you to live and work more skilfully.

We find that mindfulness is a transformative practice, leading to a deeper understanding of how to respond to situations wisely.The Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness arises when you pay attention to the present moment without judgment, with curiosity, and with kindness.  It is moment-to-moment awareness of life as it unfolds.  This includes awareness of our ‘internal life’ – including thoughts and feelings. This leads to a transformed relationship to all experience. Through this, wisdom and skilfulness arise naturally.

Mindfulness is cultivated through the practice of mindfulness meditation.

The roots of mindfulness go back over 2,500 years.  It enjoys this longevity because it makes a really positive difference to living life well.

Being more present

With mindfulness we bring attention to the only moment there ever is – the present moment.  In this way life becomes richer.  We wake up to what is here.  In being more present, we notice things more, we experience things more.  We are here more for our lives.

“Mindfulness means waking up out of autopilot and connecting deeply with ourselves and our lives.” Melli O'Brien

Living with greater clarity and wisdom

From the vantage point of awareness, mindfulness helps you to see yourself, others and the world more clearly.  Through this clarity we can develop insight.

Over time, we become less entangled with our thoughts and feelings and learn how to inhabit a wider space of awareness.  We are able to be more responsive, rather than reactive.  We experience a broader perspective.  We develop greater emotional regulation.  We recognise the mechanisms of stress and the mechanisms of ease and wellness.  And so, we are more able to make wise choices and live with greater skill.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”Viktor E. Frankl

Relating to experience more skilfully

When mindful we learn to distinguish the difference between direct experience and the story we tell ourself about experience.  Also we become more able to acknowledge the truth of our experience, with kindness and curiosity, rather than resist it.  Resitance of ‘what is’ tends to cause difficulty.

You can get out of your own way and become more fully ‘you’

In being more mindful you become more self-aware. You are more able to see your unhelpful patterns and therefore are no longer unconsciously under their force. It’s not about forcing change or striving to be better, it’s about experiencing the transformative potential of awareness itself.  The clarity and kindness that comes from mindfulness enables you to live in a way that is in balance and feels true and helpful to you.

Exercising compassion

Compassion is integral to mindfulness.  We cultivate compassion to ourselves, our experiences, others and our wider environment.  The increased noticing, clarity and wisdom supports us in taking care.

Mindfulness is an experience, not a concept

Mindfulness is something which can not be fully understood conceptually.  It is experiential and is cultivated in an embodied way through meditation.  The understanding of mindfulness reveals itself bit by bit as you develop your meditation practice and as you experience mindfulness in your life.

Want to find out more?

To discuss how you could develop your own mindfulness practice, so you can experience the benefits for yourself, please get in touch with me, Rachael.  Either by filling in the form on this page or calling 07876 495 968.