Mindfulness (MBCT) is an evidence based therapy recommended by NICE. It is effectively used to maintain recovery in depression and it is very valuable in the management of stress and also in the management of pain and other health problems.
Although the principles of Mindfulness (MBCT) have been developed through Buddhist philosophy and meditation; it is secular in its orientation. You do not need to be a Buddhist or follow any religion to learn mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be difficult to describe. Jon Kabat-Zinn (Full Catastrophe Living) described it as;
‘paying attention on purpose moment by moment without judging’
(Full Catastrophe Living, – Jon Kabat-Zinn).
The most common error people make when thinking about mindfulness is to assume it is a form of relaxation. It is not! Mindfulness meditation is a learnt skill based on the mind, body and our breathing.
People today have such busy lives; work, bills, children maybe. It can be easy to get caught up in the constant thinking that happens in our minds, we all have ways of thinking and things we think about that are habitual. Our attention and focus can be ensnared by this thinking and busyness which means that there is no time in our minds to take a moment and make sense of what is happening; to even be aware of our thoughts and the impact they have on us. How are bodies are effected.
Mindfulness teaches that to begin to notice how your attention is taken up by the thoughts and busyness in your mind is really helpful. Noticing what is happening in your mind, without judging what has happened is a skill. Learning to place your attention somewhere other than on the busyness, or thinking that we are so used to can open up other ways of being.
We can learn to attend to other things in the moment; the way the sky looks, or how enjoyable or food is, or how the air feels on our skin. If we can learn to not judge ourselves, to be compassionate and kind to ourselves then who knows what each moment will bring? If we can learn to let go of the struggle, maybe we can accept who we are.