What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an open and receptive awareness of present moment experience. When we’re faced with stressful situations, shifting into mindful awareness helps us to notice and acknowledge what’s happening, see things in perspective and choose helpful ways of responding – rather than reacting habitually and automatically in ways that can make things harder for ourselves and others.
Mindfulness is also a way of being: an approach to life more connected to the present, and less preoccupied by the past and future. Living mindfully means being less distracted, and giving more attention and energy to what really matters to us, so we enjoy more fulfilling lives.
Mindfulness is a natural capacity we already have installed, and it’s always there in the background. It is not something we currently lack, nor something we need to improve or achieve. Becoming familiar with mindful awareness may sometimes feel like exploring uncharted territory, but increasingly we realise it is more like coming home.
Mindfulness is not:
- A relaxation technique: mindfulness involves being open to whatever we are experiencing in each moment without trying to achieve a special state of calm or relaxation.
- Trying to clear our mind: we notice thoughts coming and going and that is part of the process.
- Positive thinking: we are learning to notice and allow difficult or unpleasant thoughts to come and go, we’re not suppressing them or replacing them with ‘positive’ ones.
- Religious: our courses are secular and open to people of all faiths and none.
‘Mindfulness is opening to and receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, without clinging to it or rejecting it.’