Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. By being fully present in this way – not forcing things or hiding from them, but actually being with them, we create space to respond in new ways to situations and make wise choices. We may not always have full control over our lives, but with mindfulness we can work with our minds and bodies, learning how to live with more appreciation and less anxiety.
Making mindfulness a frequent aspect of daily life requires training and a lot of practice. If you’re motivated, a fresh perspective can begin to emerge and extend to the whole of your life – when we start practising mindfulness, we’re embarking on a journey that helps us live life more fully, to really be alive.
Mindfulness practices aren’t new – they have Buddhist origins and have been around for thousands of years. But recently in western healthcare, they have been formalised into the therapies of MBCT and MBSR. This means you don’t need to be religious or spiritual to learn to practise mindfulness and enjoy the benefits. For decades now, scientific research has been showing how useful these therapies are for reducing stress, anxiety and depression, helping people manage a wide range of physical conditions, and for our general wellbeing. So mindfulness isn’t only useful if you’re feeling stressed or have a mental health problem – it can help any of us enjoy a more wakeful, healthier, happier life.
Anyone can learn and practise mindfulness; children, young people and adults can all benefit. It’s simple, you can practise it anywhere and the results can be life-changing. There are different ways to develop an understanding of, and how to practise mindfulness in daily life. It can be learnt in person, either through a group course or one-to-one with a trained teacher. There are books, audios and videos and online courses too, where you can learn through self-directed practice at home.