Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote one of the most helpful definitions of mindfulness. He is the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre.
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
Let’s take these 3 points in turn
Living with purpose is an extremely important part of mindfulness. It is quite like intention but with the follow through.
For example, in our modern, technological world, many of us do lots of things at once like, talking on the phone, watching tv, checking facebook. This is not unusual but it is an issue. The problem is that we are not purposely focusing on any one thing. This means the extent to which we can fully engage in that one thing, is restricted.
A practical way of living purposefully is to do something fully and with intention, for example, I intend to go for a walk and look at all the colours in the trees and listen to the bird song. If you spent your entire walk worrying about something you had to do, you would not be living purposefully. Try it out for yourself. The results take effect over time.
The present moment
The present moment is so precious but so often we don’t live in it. In fact, a 2010 Harward study found that we spend 47% of the time thinking about something other than what we are doing.
Instead we worry about the future or the past. In doing so, we miss so much about the present! Whether it be the leaves on the trees or a smile from a stranger, focussing on the now can allow so much joy in.
Judgement is the source of much suffering. If we judge events, moments, people, we place a lot of pressure on the way we expect them to be or turn out. We don’t accept things or people for what or who they are, we judge them and have expectations.
It is natural to have some expectation, it is built up from years of conditioning. Therefore, it takes some undoing and practice to see things just for what they are instead of through a fog of expectation.
Who is mindfulness for?
We know from our own experience and the comprehensive research into mindfulness that it is useful to people who experience all forms of stress including:
- Stress at work
- Relationship stress
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Stress in parenthood
- Stress in pregnancy
- Weight-based stress
Mindfulness serves anything from minor stress to severe depression and for any age-group. Developing a meditation practice can help you live a fuller life.
- Relief from stress
- Relief from heart disease
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce chronic pain
- Improve sleep
- Alleviation of stomach issues
If you think you’d like to do a Mindfulness course, we offer courses in St Albans, find out more here.
If your organisation is interested in offering a course to staff then contact us to explore what would work for your company.