What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an innate skill that we all posses, and it simply means paying attention to the present moment. Mindfulness is easy to do, but it’s not always easy to remember to do! Mindfulness can be seen as a life skill which we can develop to help deepen our sense of wellbeing and fulfilment.
Mindfulness is often referred to as a ‘coming to our senses’; as when we practice mindfulness we are generally becoming more aware of our sensory experiences with an attitude of kindness, and open acceptance. These sensory experiences include body and tactile sensations, sounds, smells, sights, and tastes. By re-engaging with our experience through our senses, with an attitude of kindness, and open acceptance - something we easily forget to do as we grow older and become increasingly busy - we are able to re-engage with the vibrancy and uniqueness of life again.
By cultivating this quality of awareness, we start to develop greater clarity of what is happening within our mind. We start to become more aware of our thoughts, feelings, emotions, intentions and motivations; we become aware of these experiences in a kind, accepting, spacious, and open manner that allows for choice, and some freedom, in how we respond to them. This experience is maybe best described by the following quote from Vicktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
By practising mindfulness we are expanding this 'space'.
Ultimately, whether you are suffering from stress, low mood, anxiety, or chronic pain, or life is becoming a bit too much, practising mindfulness offers a way to be with whatever your experience is in a more accepting and friendly manner. By practising mindfulness we are learning to befriend our experience, which helps us to becoming overwhelmed by difficult feelings and emotions.
‘Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally’ - Jon Kabat-Zinn
‘Knowing what is happening, whilst it’s happening, and without preference’ - Rob Nairn