What Is Mindfulness?

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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

How often are we somewhere in body, but not in mind? Maybe sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast, but not really tasting the food, as your mind is consumed by the next meeting you have that morning. Or perhaps sitting in front of the TV, not really following what’s going on as you churn over a conversation you’d had that day.  We spend lots of our time like this. On automatic pilot. There in body, but not really engaged in what we are actually experiencing. Sometimes this automatic pilot can pull us into toxic, self critical, or negative ways of thinking, and before we know it, we are stressed and anxious.

Our minds can be like a pendulum – swinging back into chewing over things which have happened in the past, or swinging forward into worrying about the ‘what ifs’ of the future. It can often take a conscious decision to bring our attention right into what’s happening now. Through Mindful awareness, we also seek to welcome whatever we find with a sense of warmth and acceptance – not struggling with, fighting, or trying to push away whatever is there, even if what we find is difficult.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Courses were developed by Prof Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the 1979. Initially offered to people with chronic pain and long term illnesses, now they have helped many thousands of people worldwide to manage low mood, anxiety, pain, illness or simply wanting to deal with stress more effectively.

Mindfulness is not a spiritual or religious practice. Rachael has no religious affiliations and has taught Mindfulness to people from all faiths, or none, who have been greatly helped by the practices.

MBSR and MBCT

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed by Prof Mark Williams and colleagues at Oxford University who wondered whether MBSR courses could be adapted to help people who live with reoccurring depression. MBCT is now recommended as a treatment of choice in the NHS for people with chronic depression. MBCT and MBSR are extremely similar (about 95% the same!). MBCT has slightly more emphasis on the role unhelpful thinking patterns can play in low mood (some specific exercises are included in week six of the course). If you are unsure which course is right for you, we would be very happy to answer any questions you may have.

Jon Kabat-Zinn Explains Mindfulness Meditation