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Why Mindfulness Matters

April 21, 2016
Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a word that just won’t go away.  It’s packed into articles I read, conversations I have and emails I receive.  But what is it and why does it matter?

Are you stuck on autopilot?

I’ve become rather good at multitasking.  Juggling, spinning, juggling, spinning.  But the thing is, it’s not doing me any good.  Too often, I arrive at a destination and can’t actually recall the journey.  I finish a sandwich and don’t remember how it tasted.  I’m so distracted, I end up robbing my present with thoughts about the past or the future.  I’m more mindless than mindful.

What is mindfulness?

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” Jon Kabat-Zinn

I rather like this definition too: Mindfulness is the gentle effort to be continuously present with experience (from Wildmind).  Gentle effort is right.  It’s not difficult.  It’s not emptying your mind of thoughts. It’s not a religion.  It’s not about forcing yourself to relax.

So how did this way of thinking come about?  In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn created an eight-week stress-reduction programme and recruited some chronically ill patients who weren’t responding well to traditional treatments.  The programme was a success.  It has flourished to become recognised and practised internationally and has been completed by more than 22,000 people.  A significant amount of research has followed, identifying how mindfulness-based interventions improve mental and physical health.  You can find out more about the programme here: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

Does it make a difference?

I received an invite to a breakfast event last week that promised insight into ‘how mindfulness will affect business in 2016’.  Intrigued to know more and not sure where to start on my journey to live more in the present, I signed up.  The excellent event hosted by consultant chartered psychologist Dr Alessio Agostinis, owner of CTT International and Glenda Rivollean, Vice Principal of Highlands College and founder of Healthaus provided a fascinating insight into the positive power of being more mindful and how it directly correlates to improved resilience.  Alessio and Glenda are inspiring advocates of the topic, recently completing a research study which is due to be published in medical journals later this year.   The findings are pretty powerful and suggest:

  • There is a proven link between mindfulness and resilience.
  • We can all learn to be more resilient.
  • People experience an increase in life satisfaction once they have grasped the essence of being more mindful.
  • Being mindful can help reduce anger, hostility, confusion, depression and increase friendliness.
  • It is also proven to boost immunity.
  • By seeing situations more clearly, we can respond more effectively to challenging situations.

Where to start being more mindful

I’m convinced.  But where do I start on my journey to being more mindful?  It’s not going to happen overnight – like any skill it will take time, commitment and a motivation to change habits that have been forged over many years.

The following have all been recommended as a great starting point.  So watch this space and I’ll report back on progress in future posts:

  • Download the Buddhify app (I’ve done this since the breakfast briefing and it really is excellent);
  • Read the best-selling book ‘Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world’ – you can buy it by clicking this button:

Are you practicing mindfulness?  If you are and have any hints, tips or insights that could help me on my mindfulness journey, I would love to hear them.  Please do leave a comment below or feel free to contact me at the email in the link at the top of the page.

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