“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness is growing very quickly in popularity with courses popping up all over the country in colleges, companies, fitness clubs, well-being centres, the NHS and in sport. It is an effective way of increasing focus in all aspects of life. It can improve health and general well-being and reduce stress. It is a skill that has to be learned, embodied and practiced. It takes about eight weeks of practice to start to embody and access the most benefits. Mindfulness should only be taught by a trained and experienced practitioner.
So, What is Mindfulness?
Stop what you are doing right now and close your eyes, feel your feet on the ground and just focus on your breath! What sensations are you noticing as your breath flows through your body? Probably not something you normally pay much attention to. However, this is the basis of mindfulness, an awareness of the richness of your experience in each moment. A simple practice in essence, but one which needs to be embodied to be of benefit.
Mindfulness may sound like the latest buzzword, but this centuries-old notion of paying wise attention to whatever is happening in our lives is more than just a trendy philosophy. It can do wonders to enhance enjoyment of life and to help deal more effectively with stressful challenges. Mindfulness is being used in many fields from companies such as Google, to the NHS, to top athletes, such as number one tennis player, Djokovic. It is also being successfully taught in schools. Many find that mindfulness is an effective way of supporting personal self-development or as a way to generally find greater inner peace.
Mindfulness gives us the tools to learn through our experience how to take better care of ourselves by understanding the interplay of mind and body and allowing greater access to inner resources for coping, and growing. The course combines meditation, dialogue, reflective inquiry, mindful movement and communication as a means to working more effectively with the challenges of everyday life as well as and including stress and pain.
Mindfulness utilises the latest in neuroscience discoveries in neuroplasticity. Essentially, this is the idea that the brain can be shaped by our experience. The course guides participants through practices to build the mental muscle that has real life implications for handling life situations differently. It can be life transforming to find that things that used to stress you out might not impact you in the same way any longer.