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, as demonstrated in the video below.
Mindfulness can be kindled with the help of some harmonious attitudes and perspectives, including curiosity, gratitude, honesty and acceptance. These are some of the many branches through which mindfulness can be made manifest, all of which have a common root in simple awareness. The Mindfulness Tree offers a space to explore these branches together.
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