What is Mindfulness?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the modern form of Mindfulness, defines it as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”. The purpose of mindfulness is to bring a greater sense of awareness to the present moment. When life gets busy, we get so caught up in thinking, planning, remembering and worrying that we often get stuck in autopilot mode and we forget to check in with the present moment. Mindfulness therefore gives us the tools and skills to be able to do this effectively.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness can be practiced formally and informally. The formal practice is usually called Mindfulness Meditation. Most of the research on the benefits of Mindfulness is based on the formal practice of Mindfulness Meditation.
There are 3 basic components to most Mindfulness Meditations: your body, your breath and your thoughts. In a meditation practice, the aim is to keep your focus on an “anchor”. Your anchor is usually connected to one of your five senses. It might be your breath flowing in and out of your nostrils, a spot that you visually focus on, a scan of your body, or it might be a sound. You choose one and use it as your anchor to this moment. It’s normal and natural for your mind to wander during mediation. You simply notice the thoughts, acknowledge them and gently bring your awareness back to your anchor, without judgment.
What are the benefits of Mindfulness Meditation?
- Reduce stress.
- Increase creativity.
- Enhance focus and concentration.
- Improve your relationships.
What Mindfulness Meditation is not
The goal of Mindfulness is not relaxation. Although relaxation can be a bonus benefit of engaging in a regular mindfulness practice, it’s not the goal. The thoughts that Mindfulness brings into our awareness are not necessarily always pleasant, however, Mindfulness does help to give us some distance from them, and it also brings a greater sense of acceptance to them.
Acceptance does not mean “liking” or “approving” of what comes into your awareness, it simply means, “sitting with” the thoughts, without a struggle. The struggle with your thoughts is what is said to create the suffering. Thoughts are just thoughts. It’s getting caught up in them, becoming preoccupied with them and consumed by them that causes the problem.
The goal of Mindfulness is not to stop your thoughts or to stop your mind from thinking. That is impossible! Not even Zen masters can do this. The goal is to simply notice your thoughts and to bring a greater sense of kindness and compassion to those thoughts. It’s about being open to, and curious to, whatever comes up.
How can I learn to Meditate?
Kerry is able to teach you the skills of Mindfulness Meditation in session and she can also provide you with recordings of her guided Meditations to practice with at home. If you are interested in learning more about Mindfulness Meditation, please contact Kerry to arrange a consultation.