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Thoughts on Mindfulness

You may have heard horror stories of mindfulness techniques being over-used or abused.  It certainly seems to have been one of the favourite flavours of the past year.  Anecdotally speaking, at a recent programme I was facilitating, half of the participants said they were regularly practicing mindfulness.

Mindfulness has moved away from its purest association with Buddhism towards being a respected approach for people to arrive at increased head space, in an ever-demanding world of 24/7 availability.

A  key proponent in the area, Jon Kabat-Zinn and other mindfulness trainers, warn against comparing the detail of one’s mindfulness progress with others.  To compare and contrast on how we are doing with our respective mindfulness practice is not an especially useful thing to do because mindfulness by its nature is uniquely personal and infinitely various.

There’s mindfulness in walking, picture drawing, washing yourself, juggling …. and the list goes on. It’s doing whatever you’re doing with awareness and appreciation.  Through it, we endeavour to gain access directly to the experience itself, whether that is a breath, a thought, a perception, a judgment….and all without judgment, which then gives us true wisdom and perspective.  I think that the name ‘mindfulness’ is a misnomer, since it is about the integration of all domains of understanding rather than just the mind i.e. the mind, body, spirit, all mixed in together.

As a practitioner, it’s provided me with many benefits.  It’s increased my awareness of what’s in my focus and what’s on the outskirts and whether its doing any good hanging around in there.  I need less sleep because the quality is better and energy during the day is used more productively.

I offer some observations:

  • Mindfulness is not a panacea.
  • It has wide application in everyday life.
  • The personal benefits can be endless and varied.
  • Have a chat with someone who is a regular practitioner, not on the detail of their ‘how,’ but more on the benefits they’ve noticed.
  • Be wary of professionals who highly recommend that you try it and indeed get you to practise it there and then in-session, without your permission and without transparency.
  • Read the very readable book: ‘Wherever you go, there you are’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

 

 




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