Learning more about Practical Mindfulness meditation is essential – It gives us a time in our lives when we can suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness - to ourselves and others.
What is Mindfulness?
Are you supposed to clear your mind, or focus on one thing? Mindfulness. It’s a pretty straightforward word. It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand. Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. And that makes us anxious.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Practice:
When we meditate it doesn’t help to fixate on the benefits, but rather to just do the practice, and yet there are benefits or no one would do it. When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to others’ well-being.
The Definition & Story of Modern Evidence Mindfulness from 1979
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
From a research perspective it is globally agreed that it can be defined very simply and effectively as a SKILFUL way to train your brain to:
1. Focus on the Present Moment
2. On purpose
3. And crucially without judgement
Akin to a Mental Fitness way of training your brain and breath.
The History of Evidence Based Stress Reduction
Back in 1979 – Along with others, Jon Kabat Zinn pioneered an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction course at the University of Massachusetts Medical School for patients with chronic pain, harnessing the fundamentals of mindfulness meditation as taught by the Buddha, but with Buddhism taken out. “I bent over backwards to structure it and find ways to speak about it that avoided as much as possible the risk of it being seen as Buddhist, new age, eastern mysticism or just plain flakey,”
The Stress Reduction Clinic at UMass University - recruited chronically ill patients not responding well to traditional treatments to participate in his newly formed eight-week stress-reduction program, which we now call Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and subsequently (MBCT) . Heralded by Oxford & Harvard and heavily researched and now first line interventions recommended by UK Clinical NICE Guidelines
By taking Buddhism out of the practice, Kabat-Zinn pioneered a meditative approach used all over the world to treat pain and depression. With others, Jon Kabat Zinn pioneered an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction course at the University of Massachusetts Medical School for patients with chronic pain, harnessing the fundamentals of mindfulness meditation as taught by the Buddha, but with the Buddhism taken out. “I bent over backwards to structure it and find ways to speak about it that avoided as much as possible the risk of it being seen as Buddhist, new age, eastern mysticism or just plain flakey,”
The UMass Stress Reduction Clinic opened its doors in 1979 and taught people with chronic back pain, victims of industrial accidents, cancer patients and sometimes paraplegics. Kabat-Zinn has defined mindfulness meditation as “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”. By focusing on the breath, the idea is to cultivate attention on the body and mind as it is moment to moment, and so help with pain, both physical and emotional.
Since then, substantial research has mounted demonstrating how mindfulness-based interventions improve mental and physical health—comparably so to other psychological interventions.
Need to know Definition and Importance of Modern Mindfulness
Supporters such as Willem Kuyken, a professor of clinical psychology at Oxford University, even suggest that Kabat-Zinn’s pioneering work could one day see him mentioned in the same breath as Darwin and Einstein. “What they did for biology and physics, Jon has done for a new frontier: the science of the human mind and heart
It is prescribed on the NHS in some areas to prevent recurrent depression, with 2,256 people completing eight-week courses last year. The course reduces the likelihood of relapse by almost a third, according to an analysis of nine trials. In the US, the NBA basketball champions, Golden State Warriors, are the latest poster boys for the practice after their coach, Steve Kerr, made mindfulness one of the team’s core values alongside my work pioneering Mindfulness for Team GB Athletes here in the UK.
Mindfulness Is Not All in Your Head
Mindfulness Meditation begins and ends in the body. It involves taking the time to pay attention to where we are and what’s going on, and that starts with being aware of our body
But meditation begins and ends in the body. It involves taking the time to pay attention to where we are and what’s going on, and that starts with being aware of our body. That very act can be calming, since our body has internal rhythms that help it relax if we give it a chance.
Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” says Kabat-Zinn.
Its agreed that Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it.
The Top 3 Mindfulness TED Talks
The Power of Mindfulness: What You Practice Grows Stronger | Shauna Shapiro | TEDxWashingtonSquare.
In this video, Shauna Shapiro PhD, professor at Santa Clara University, clinical psychologist, and an internationally recognized expert in mindfulness talks about the power of mindfulness and personal change.
Self-Transformation Through Mindfulness | Dr. David Vago | TEDxNashville
In this, one of the best TED Talks on meditation neuroscience, David Vago explains what mindfulness does to the brain. If you want to change your life or your habits, David Vago talks about the neuroscience of mindfulness and how it can help you to embed those changes.
How mindfulness meditation redefines pain, happiness & satisfaction | Dr. Kasim Al-Mashat | TEDxSFU.
In this mindfulness TED Talk, Dr Kasim Al-Mashat examines how mindfulness can be used to manage pain and build happiness in your life.
The Types of Mindfulness Practice
While mindfulness is innate, it can be cultivated through proven techniques. Here are some examples:
Moving (it’s also possible lying down but often leads to sleep);
Short pauses we insert into everyday life;
Merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports.
Mindful Questions when you END your working day after a focused short practice