Mindfulness is taking the world by storm.
Schools are bringing mindfulness training into the curriculum, enabling children to manage stress better, be more attentive and develop better relationships.
Business and Life Coaches are drawing on the resource of mindfulness coaching to help clients better manage their anxiety, depression and life traumas.
Neuroscience and Mindfulness Research are working together. Mindfulness education is being incorporated into medicine and psychiatry, with amazing results. Hospitals are incorporating Mindfulness Based Stress Relief (MBSR) programmes to help patients manage a number of disorders including anxiety, depression and chronic pain. Mindfulness meditation, once considered alternative, is increasingly available on the NHS.
There are 1,000s of research studies on the subject from places like Harvard University and the American Mindfulness Research Association. What they are showing us is that mindfulness works. It is good for us.
- It strengthens the immune system, leading to a better resilience to illness
- It decreases stress, enabling us to manage previously overwhelming situations with greater calmness and clarity
- It helps us sleep better as we discover ways to calm the racing mind and feel more at peace with ourselves.
Meditation which is one way of practicing mindfulness, is also good for the heart – it helps produce nitric oxide in the arteries, dilating them and reducing blood pressure.
And good news for all of us – thanks to an explosion of brain research we now know that meditation makes the gray matter grow, and protects the brain from some of the effects of aging.
One of the myths about meditation is that it is all about not thinking. When it comes to Mindfulness meditation this is not how it is at all. Rather, we learn to pay attention to the stream of thoughts that it is impossible to stop, with greater awareness, accepting what is, without judgement. Consequently, we are able to manage our thought better and take back control of the mind.
“With mindfulness, you can stop taking (your thoughts) so seriously. You can come to know that your thoughts make a good servant but not a good master. You can step back and listen to your thoughts mindfully and then decide whether they’re useful or not.” (Your Mind: Friend or Foe?, Jack Kornfield).
So we learn that we don’t have to allow ourselves to get caught up in the stream of thoughts. We can listen to the mind with greater awareness, and then we can decide whether or not we believe what it is telling us. Then from a perspective of mindful awareness, we decide whether or not we want to act on the thoughts.
In this way we are able to disengage from unhealthy patterns of behaviour. Mindfulness brings liberation and transformation, freeing us to make choices rather than to be the victim of our thoughts.
If you would like help in exploring mindfulness for yourself, please get in touch.