Mindfulness is the art of showing up for our lives. Described by Jon Kabat-Zinn as paying attention on purpose, in the present-moment and without judgement, mindfulness is the simple awareness of what’s happening around and within us.
Most of the time, we are not present. We are ruminating over the past, or worrying about the future, obsessed and controlled by our stories, opinions and fears. To practice mindfulness is to step outside of this whirlwind. When we practice, we are coming out of our stories about life, and into our experience of life as it is now. This is the essence of mindfulness – to rest in the present moment, in the senses, and be curious about what we find there. Mindfulness is not about what should be or what might be, but what is.
In observing our experience this way, we can create a sense of spaciousness in our minds. We are no longer hemmed in or pushed around by our internal chatter, but able to experience and respond to the world with clarity and composure. We stop living on auto-pilot and tap into a way of being that is more authentic, more calm, and better able to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.
We practice mindfulness by systematically bringing attention to different aspects of our experience. And we support our practice with complimentary attitudes and perspectives, including curiosity, gratitude and acceptance – some of the many branches through which mindfulness can manifest. The Mindfulness Tree offers a space to explore these perspectives, so individuals can find an approach best suiting their own situation and character.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Mindfulness can show effects quickly or slowly. It is a very personal practice, with everyone experiencing something different. However, research suggests that mindfulness can:
Reduce stress and anxiety
Increase concentration and focus
Promote physical and psychological well-being
Develop emotional resilience
Reduce blood pressure
Promote compassion for self and others and make compassion more effective
Help individuals move beyond insomnia
Improve physical performance in sports
For balanced information about contemporary research into the effects of mindfulness, visit the University of Oxford Mindfulness Research Centre