What is Mindfulness?

 

Mindfulness helps us to shift from DIS-EASE to EASE by illuminating new and nourishing ways of relating to ourselves and our experience, leading to inner resourcefulness and greater resilience.

About mindfulness

Mindfulness is an entirely secular training for the mind, a way of paying attention to our experience – an awareness to see what is going on in our mind, body and environment moment by moment, in a way that prevents us becoming entangled in thoughts, emotions or pain. Through practising mindfulness, we develop a ‘decentred’ stance from where we can observe our experience unfolding, whilst suspending judgement of it or ourselves. This helps us to see clearly any patterns of automatic reactivity which are reinforcing distress in our lives, and creates the space for us to respond with choice and compassion to take care of ourselves and, therefore, others.

Mindfulness is an empowering ally, resourcing us to actively participate in our own wellbeing by befriending our minds and bodies to reduce the effects of stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, sleep problems, chronic pain and chronic illness. Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed the first contemporary mindfulness course, also calls it ‘Heartfulness’. Ultimately, mindfulness equips us to live a richer, more vibrant life.

You can read more about mindfulness here, and how it positively affects our brains and bodies here.

Watch a fun animated video explaining mindfulness.

You already have mindfulness tools!

The good news is that human beings already have the capacity to be mindful. Have you ever been out in nature and felt absorbed in or connected to the sights, smells and sounds? Or maybe you have felt in tune with your body and experience whilst doing physical activity, walking in nature, gardening, practising yoga, playing a musical instrument, drawing, or even working.

These are all examples of being connected to our body and present moment experience through the five senses. Mindfulness builds on this natural sensory capacity to cultivate the skill to be intentionally mindful for more moments of our life. We can then begin to notice the activity of the mind as a ‘sixth sense’, and learn to meet our experience with acceptance and kindness.

How is mindfulness developed?

Mindfulness is cultivated through a variety of structured practices in daily life, by paying attention to sense objects and our wider experience, predominantly involving meditation – whilst sitting, lying, and moving (walking and gentle yoga-based stretches).

Paying attention is one thing, however it is how we do it which makes a crucial difference. With mindfulness, we practice paying attention on purpose and in a particular way (with friendly curiosity, whilst suspending judgement). When we do this for more moments of our day, we are able to clearly see potentially troublesome patterns of thought or emotion unfolding. We can then pause and respond in a way that supports our wellbeing. Over time, as we practice responding in this way, we loosen the grip of stress, anxiety, low mood, pain and destructive habits.

Mindless-ness

You might think that paying attention is nothing special, we all do that….right? Well, we do and we don’t! For example, as you pay attention to reading this your mind might be wandering off to items on your to do list or being distracted by sounds in your environment. Maybe something you read or the sound has triggered an interesting thought or memory that is playing out in your mind, which then makes you feel happy or sad. Or perhaps there is a familiar ache in your back which concerns you and you think about planning a visit to the physio. All this happens whilst you are trying to read this information about mindfulness.

This is just what minds do and is usually harmless. However, when we are stressed, suffering with pain, or in an emotionally challenging situation, these same automatic thoughts, feelings and sensations can quickly hook us into habitual reactivity (e.g., worry, anxiety, anger). This only serves to make the difficult experience worse!

What mindfulness is NOT!

With the explosion of interest in mindfulness over recent years, there are inevitably some misconceptions around. So, it can be helpful to understand what mindfulness is not:

  • It is not mystical or religious. Mindfulness accepts all religious views or none.
  • It is not about escaping, or detaching ourselves, from the real world or passive acceptance. Mindfulness actively embraces the messiness of life and all our faults and weaknesses, with radical acceptance. In time, it may also help us to get clear about our values so that we can take a stand about what we believe in.
  • It is not intended as a relaxation method and in mindfulness practice we are not trying to relax. Conversely, this approach may actually help us to feel more relaxed
  • It is not therapy but might feel ‘therapeutic’ in its effect
  • It is not about striving to clear the mind or achieving a particular state of mind; it’s more about learning to meet the mind and our experience how they actually are – moment by moment. Through this approach, we are more likely to develop clarity of mind

 

Interested in learning more about mindfulness?

Read about our mindfulness course

Book a course

Meanwhile, you can get a taste of mindfulness by following our FREE meditation guidance  or by joining our drop-in Mindful Monday session  at 7pm every week. You’ll receive a very warm welcome, it would be great to meet you!

If you have any questions, do feel free to get in touch at danny@jollymindfulnes.com or call/message 07824 664571, I’d be delighted to help!


 
“I have just completed a mindfulness course run by the wonderful Danny Jolly. I started the course suffering with stress which was triggering anxiety. Danny taught a range of skills to enable us to be present and take time for ourselves. Just a few months later and I feel in a totally different headspace. Danny has a way of bringing everyone together, so there is no need to be concerned about fitting in with others.
I would highly recommend this course for anyone struggling to bring some balance into their life.”  Donna Hogben