What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing the attention on whatever is happening now, approaching each moment with an attitude of acceptance and curiosity in order to increase awareness of what is actually going on. By learning to gently escort the mind to here and now rather than letting it wander to revisit past events or anticipate future fears we allow ourselves the opportunity to respond rather than react to events. Minds naturally tend to wander, but often this is unhelpful to us and we are distracted by irrelevant or distressing thoughts. By learning to direct our attention to the present moment we give ourselves a better chance of achieving clarity of mind and moving toward more helpful thought patterns.
There is a growing body of research to support the benefits of mindfulness training.
In October 2015 the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG) published a Report ‘Mindful Nation UK’. MAPPG believe mindfulness is an important innovation in mental health, deserving serious attention and warranting further research. They highlight its interest to politicians, policymakers, health, education and criminal justice services and employers.
The Report says of mindfulness “While it is not a panacea, it does appear to offer benefit in a wide range of contexts.”(MAPPG, 2015, p.4)
MAPPG (Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group). 2015. Mindful Nation UK. [Accessed 17 May 2016] [Online] Available from: http://www.themindfulnessinitiative.org.uk/
Silverton, S. 2012. The Mindfulness Breakthrough. London: Duncan Baird Publishers
The concept of mindfulness meditation is far from contemporary having its roots in Eastern philosophy and Buddhist teaching as far back as 2,500 years ago. However it is probably only during the last 20 years that it has been slowly emerging as a concept relevant to modern Western living and even more recently that it is “…becoming a mainstream and recommended secular or non-religious approach found in health care, social care, education and business settings.”(Silverton, 2012 p.12)