Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally”. Jon Kabat-Zinn
Being aware of our present experiences whether these are thoughts, actions or sensations in the body is a simple concept but is not always easy because we can be on auto-pilot a lot of the time.
The breath is used as an anchor to facilitate mindfulness; each mindfulness practice begins by bringing awareness to the breath. This means bringing awareness to the sensations of the breath in the body. Our breathing has the virtue of being a very convenient process to support on-going mindfulness. It is always with us, we can’t leave home without it.
There are attitudes of being that are fundamental to being mindful. One of these is non-judging, i.e. assuming the stance of an impartial witness rather than passing judgment on either yourself or others. Another is patience. The attitude of beginner’s mind means that curiosity is brought to bear on our lives as if to see everything as if for the first time. Trust means trusting ourselves to be ourselves, rather than imitating others. Having a purpose in mindfulness practice is a real obstacle to progress so the opposite i.e. non-striving is what is called for. Perhaps the attitude of acceptance reflects non-striving because it means accepting things as they are in the moment, whether it’s a bad headache or you’re sitting down to a lovely meal. The final fundamental attitude to being mindful is letting go. This is relevant to the other attitudes e.g. judging, striving, etc.
Mindfulness can help to improve your quality of life, your coping skills and save you time.
Used in conjunction with cognitive behaviour therapy, mindfulness can help in the treatment of mental health problems and chronic physical problems. Put very simply, achieving daily practice and developing the fundamental attitudes over time, helps to counteract the maintaining factors of both mental health problems and the psychological problems arising from physical conditions.
Leaving the last word with 85 year old Nadine Stair from Kentucky “Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.”