What is mindfulness?
Simply put, mindfulness is moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness – (Jon Kabat-Zinn)
Mindfulness is a central theme of the 2500 year old Buddhist meditative practices. However, the recent popularity in Mindfulness stems fromJon Kabat-Zinn,who at the University of Massachusetts, in 1979, developed a program (MBSR) based on mindfulness meditation practices to relieve stress, pain and chronic illness. Mindfulness may be better understood by considering that it is the opposite of mindlessness. How often have you found yourself on “automatic pilot” arriving somewhere in your car without remembering the journey or having drunk or ate to excess without really noticing what you are doing? Mindfulness is an intentionalfocusing of attention on internal and external stimuli. It focuses directly on the present moment experience and it does so in an accepting and non judgmental way. The aim being to notice what is going on in the present moment without trying to change it.
The groups that I run are based around a program developed by Christine Dunkley and Maggie Stanton. At the time they were both working for a large NHS Trust and initially developed the program for people who were on a waiting list for therapy. The program was so successful that often attendees did not feel the need to go on to therapy.
Who are the groups aimed at?
The groups will be helpful to anyone who wants to:
- Increase self awareness by paying more attention to thoughts, feelings and sensations
- Become more aware of the present reality and the choices available to them
- Reduce the time spent ruminating (on the past, the future) and so more fully engage in the here and now
- Be more kind and compassionate to themselves and others
- Become more accepting of life’s experiences
Conditions such as depression and anxiety are exacerbated by excessive rumination and self judgment and so Mindfulness has an important role in helping to reduce the episodes of these conditions.
How are the groups run?
- Groups are small with a maximum of 12 attendees
- Groups run for an hour each week for 6 weeks.
- You will be taught simple and short mindfulness practices
- You will be encouraged to monitor your own evaluations and judgements
- Unlike other programs which utilise lengthy meditations the emphasis is on teaching you a skill that you will be able to use in your daily life.
The groups are designed to be cost effective and accessible for all.