What is mindfulness?

Practicing mindfulness means bringing our attention to the present moment to be fully aware of what is going on within and around us.

Isn’t that really quite simple?

Yes! But in a world increasingly filled with demands and distractions, it is actually quite difficult to do this consistently. That is why it is useful to have the support of an ongoing mindfulness class help us to train our attention to be more able to comfortably rest into what is unfolding right now.

Using formal practices such as sitting meditation and mindful walking, we can train our mind to increase our capacity to be present. (The neuroscience shows meditation causes physical changes to the structure of the brain.) These formal practices allow us to bring a mindful presence into all aspects of our lives, we can do anything from eating, to gardening to conversing with a mindful awareness.

So why practice mindfulness?

First and foremost, it is a very pleasant thing to do! Just being more present, more awake is a great way to live.

But beyond that, when we cultivate a mindful attention, our mind, over time, becomes more stable and calm. We are less carried away by impulses, reactive thoughts and difficult emotions.

A stable and calm mind allows us to see more clearly into our difficulties and their causes, and our happiness and its causes. We learn to respond more skillfully to the stresses and strains of live. We learn to focus on, and enhance positive states of mind such as gratitude and compassion. Ultimately, we feel more ease and freedom.

Is there any evidence about the benefits of mindfulness?

Many scientific studies have explored the benefits of mindfulness. There has been evidence that mindfulness can:

  • Increase immune function
  • Decrease pain
  • Increase positive emotion
  • Decrease stress
  • Increase social connection and emotional intelligence
  • Increase areas of brain relating to self control
  • Improve attention
  • Improve memory
  • Improve creative thinking

There is a summary of the studies that show these benefits and others in this article.

All that said, there is a paradox where despite all these potential benefits, we cannot successfully practice mindfulness just to get somewhere or change something. A key element of mindfulness is the practice or recognising and accepting things just as they are.

Experience mindfulness for yourself

To really understand why mindfulness can be so beneficial, experience mindfulness first-hand in a Fully Here class