What Is Mindfulness

“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.” –  Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention, in the present moment, to oneself, others and the world around us. It involves learning to direct attention to our experience as it unfolds, from moment to moment with acceptance, flexibility and curiosity. It is a natural state of mind, focused, present and aware. This open minded way of paying attention to our experience in the present moment, supports us to develop healthier and more compassionate responses to ourselves, as well as to situations and events in our lives.

In our daily lives we can find ourselves stressed, scattered, and feeling pressured. Never getting to the top of our to do list…making space to ‘simply be’ can seem like a luxury. For many people the pace of life is hectic and the stresses and pressures that we are faced with can feel overwhelming at times. We can easily become consumed by everything we need to get done and everywhere we need to be. Our minds may feel almost disconnected from our bodies; our thoughts racing ahead into constant planning and worrying, or dwelling on past regrets and injustices.

And perhaps the time that we now live in, requires skills that enable us to encounter the challenges we face in everyday life with more strength and balance. Mindfulness is a way to access this inner and outer personal strength.

While awareness and attention of the present moment may not sound like a particularly useful thing to do, what we know is that when people learn ways of tuning into present moment experience without viewing it through the lens of criticism or judgment, there can be many benefits. As we start to learn mindfulness, we notice how much time we are inclined to spend dwelling in the past, or anxiously anticipating the future. We may also notice how often we get caught up in cycles of negative, critical thoughts. As we build our capacity to be more aware and focused we can notice these patterns of thought and behaviour and chose to relate differently to these situations. Rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen, mindfulness trains us to respond skillfully to whatever is happening right now.