Why Mindfulness?

                                                              

Mindfulness is the practice of becoming fully aware of the present moment and what you are doing now non-judgementally and completely, rather than dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness can be achieved through meditation, but one can also practice mindfulness through daily activities such as eating, walking, cleaning, etc.

As Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and one of the most highly respected teachers of mindfulness practice in the world, says:

"The practice of mindfulness requires only that whatever you do, you do with your whole being. You have to invest one hundred percent of yourself in doing even very simple things, like picking up a pen, opening a book, or lighting a stick of incense.”
                                                                      
                                                                                        The Art of Power. HarperCollins 2007

During mindfulness meditation we observe everything that passes before our attention, but we do not get caught up in our thoughts - instead, we just stay aware of what is going on in the present moment, acknowledge our thoughts and then just let them pass by. The breath is used as an anchor to the present moment, but, apart from that, no attempt is made to direct the attention.

While Mindfulness has origins in Eastern philosophy and Buddhism, there is no necessary religious component to mindfulness – anyone, with any belief system, can enjoy the benefits of mindfulness. 

Mindfulness today has become accepted by Doctors and Psychologists and is used as a cognitive therapeutic technique.  Studies have shown that people who practice mindfulness meditation are better able to relax, and have more control of their emotions and feelings.   Meditation has been found to lower the levels of our stress hormone cortisol and to increase production of serotonin, the brain chemical which helps balance our mood and behaviour.

 

How can Mindfulness help to relieve stress?

Our world is a very stressful place and although we cannot get rid of stress completely - it is an intrinsic part of our lives -, we can learn to cope with it and to alleviate some of the acute physical symptoms of stress (the 'fight or flight' reaction) by focusing our attention  on the place of inner calm using Mindfulness and meditation.

Mindfulness is a useful tool for dealing with daily stresses as well as with the more long term chronic stress.  Studies have shown that Mindfulness meditation can help you relax, increase your mood and boost your immune system.  Mindfulness is a great tool because it can be done anywhere.

People from Western industrialised cultures have a tendency to be characterized by the more left hemisphere-dominated mode of brain operation.  The left side of the brain is the logical side; this is the side that has a continuous flow of thoughts.  Meditation can help you gain access to the right side of the brain - this side is your intuitive side, and it provides inspiration and the expression and regulation of emotions. By cultivating the right hemisphere mode through meditation, we help improve communication between both hemispheres of our brain, which may help us become more mentally and emotionally stable.