How can it help?
Mindfulness helps us to access an inner stillness and peace in a busy world. Often we rush through life without paying much attention to what is going on around us. Our minds are busy with thoughts about making plans, worrying about the future, getting caught up in self-judgments, or regretting the past.
Have you ever driven to work only to arrive without quite knowing how you got there, only to realise that your mind was so busy you did not notice the road before you? We call this being on ‘automatic pilot’, where our mind is everywhere except for the present moment. It is continuously wandering off into autopilot and stress increasing thought patterns such as worrying, judging, regretting and planning and this is mostly without our awareness of it.
Mindfulness is the exact opposite to autopilot. When we are mindful we are aware of our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, the world around us and what we are doing. When we are in autopilot, we are not really aware of our experience.
It is important to emphasize that it is in the nature of the mind to wander off into autopilot, it wanders thousands of times every day. As soon as we become aware that we are on autopilot that is when we have become mindful. We have become the person who is aware of our thoughts. From there, we can use mindfulness skills to become anchored or grounded in the present moment.
Being caught up this cycle of autopilot results in increased stress and unhappiness, and a general sense of dissatisfaction even when things are going well. We lose connection with the present moment and the simple pleasures we can experience in it. It prevents us from taking things as they come and remaining open to our own unique experience.
“I have just completed an 8 week mindfulness course with Shirine . Simply put, it has started me on my recovery from a racing mind which was affecting my life negatively . I now have the knowledge and skills to live a more peaceful and happier life . I feel really lucky to have made contact and started the course . As an added bonus it has improved my breathing when exercising. I highly recommend this course and wish anyone doing it the best of luck” – Stephen
Through mindfulness we learn to live consciously and with awareness in our everyday lives. Mindfulness meditation teaches us to relate to our experience in a new way. Instead of getting caught up in our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations we observe them as best we can without judgement.
We also learn to take care of ourselves with an attitude of friendliness or kindness towards our inner experience. This helps us to respond rather than react our experiences and life events and allows us to access our own inner resources when we most need them. By practicing mindfulness we can greatly improve our sense of wellbeing and contentment as well as our ability to truly connect with our lives moment by moment.
The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course was developed over forty years ago by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts to bring mindfulness into mainstream medicine and healthcare. The program has been subject to a broad range of clinical research which has demonstrated it’s effectiveness in improving physical and psychological symptoms such as stress, anxiety, depression and chronic pain. Furthermore, it has shown that regular mindfulness practice can improve self-esteem, increase concentration, and provide a greater resilience to life’s challenges.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is an of eight week course containing the main program content of MBSR and also includes elements of Cognitive Behaviour therapy. It is equally supported by a strong evidence base and is recommended in the NICE Guidelines for people suffering with recurrent depression.
Benefits of Mindfulness include:
- Reduced stress, worry, and anxiety.
- Increased inner stability, wellbeing and resilience to life’s challenges.
- Greater ability to relax and maintain present moment awareness.
- Improves mood and emotional wellbeing.
- Strengthens decision making, memory, information processing and problem solving abilities.
- Can improve interpersonal relationships with others.
- Greater appreciation of simple things in life.
- Increased immunity and physical wellbeing.
- Assists with our relationship to physical and emotional pain.
“The course has been very important to me. It came along at a time in my life when I needed it most. I have gained a new awareness of time and how I use it. I am a calmer, happier person.” -Gillian