Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Mindfulness Help Sheet

Mindfulness Defined

Mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness of experience as it unfolds, moment by moment. Through the practice of mindfulness, we exercise the “muscle” of our attention in order to focus intentionally on the only moment in which we have any control—right now. While mindful awareness can be practiced on an informal basis throughout each day, periods of meditation are the primary vehicle for cultivating focused attention on the moment. Mindful awareness can dwell on a variety of present moment experiences such as breath, physical sensations, thoughts, emotions, sounds, and visual stimuli

Why Practice Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has benefits that are emotional, physical, spiritual, and cognitive. A recent surge of interest in mindfulness meditation within the medical and psychological communities has led to widespread research on the effects of the practice. Results of this research suggest that consistent mindfulness meditation leads to neurological changes that decrease stress, ruminative thinking, and anxiety while increasing spiritual values, empathy, and self-compassion.

Practicing mindfulness can enhance prefrontal activation, which is correlated with increased well-being and reduced anxiety. Reduced volume and interconnections of the frontal lobes with other brain regions has been observed in people diagnosed with mental disorders; those subjected to repeated stressors; suicides; those incarcerated; criminals; sociopaths; those affected by lead poisoning; and daily cannabis users.
Feeling guilt or remorse, and to interpret reality, may be dependent on a well-functioning prefrontal cortex.
Practitioners of mindfulness often describe feeling happier as a result of their practice—less anxious, more comfortable in their own skin, more content in life, and more connected to others. They also describe better concentration, resulting in improved performance within a variety of contexts, and increased impulse control. Mindfulness practice increases healthy immune response to illness, decreases the impact of chronic pain, and improves heart health. Due to the many benefits of mindfulness, mindfulness training is commonly offered in medical centres, schools, psychological treatment settings, and athletic training centres around the world.

What about mindfulness meditation?

The promise of abundant life—living life fully by being entirely present in each moment. Being present in each moment as it actually is rather than insisting that it be something different. Accepting our experience in each moment as a gift for ourselves of acceptance rather than resistance incise something better comes along.

There are many ways of resisting our experience, such as:

substance use
We can live abundantly when we pay attention to our life, when we lean into our experience with curiosity and acceptance. When we are simply with ourselves as we are, we find that we are okay exactly as we are.

But what about when our experience in the moment is painful?

Wouldn’t we want to distract ourselves from reality when reality hurts? This is a universal human tendency, and yet avoiding our pain increases our pain. It is resistance to our experience that multiplies the pain of life into suffering that feels intolerable. We are far more resilient than we often realise. When we give ourselves messages like “I can’t stand this” or “this is too much,” we are adding negative judgments onto ourselves and our experience that increase our pain and interfere with our innate resilience.

Origins of Mindfulness

Of all the world religions, Buddhism puts the most focus on mindfulness, and the recent increase of attention to mindfulness around the world has emerged largely out of the Buddhist community. However, the practice itself is not tied to a particular religious tradition apart from that chosen by the practitioner. Mindfulness is not inherently Buddhist, just as meditation is not inherently Buddhist. Practices such as prayer, meditation, mindfulness, fasting, etc., exist as components of spiritual experience across a variety of religions and cultures.