There’s been a lot of hype over recent years about mindfulness. Many people have now heard of it, but I’m often asked what is it all about and does it really work?
So, what is it?
In my view, meditation and mindfulness go hand-in-hand. They are both very natural activities and everyone is able to do it – you don’t need exclusive knowledge or special skills, but it does help to have a few simple pointers.
Generally speaking, meditation falls into two broad types:
Gentle concentration – training the mind to stay where you put it and not to keep wandering off or losing focus!
Insight – a wider, more inquisitive approach to seeing more clearly how things really are, bringing deeper wisdom and understanding.
Meditation has been around for thousands of years and has been proven to improve your mental and physical health, increase your concentration, reduce your stress and offer you a whole host of other benefits.
Mindfulness on the other hand is the practice of awareness, or ‘being present’. There can be an internal focus (e.g. mindfulness of the body) or an external focus on an activity (e.g. brushing your teeth). It is simply the act of paying attention to what is happening, right here, right now, this very moment, without judgement.
Whilst this principle, too, has been around for centuries, very much embedded in meditative practice, the term ‘mindfulness’ itself has become popularised in recent years by psychologists and health practitioners who have applied and researched these concepts and activities with beneficial results in modern healthcare settings.
Does it work?
Becoming skilled at meditation and mindfulness practice will help you develop the inner resources to cope with the challenges you face in everyday life. It is not a cure-all, but it is a very practical tool for changing your relationship with how you perceive the world around you.
It certainly works for me, helping me to find an easier and calmer place in the world. My students would agree and you can read what some of them have to say on the testimonials page on my website.
There is also an increasing body of research demonstrating the positive effects of meditation and mindfulness on people suffering from chronic pain, anxiety and depression and other health conditions. As part of the courses I teach, we go into more depth about some of the current research findings.