The mindfulness movement is moving across the UK, now with more and more interest from politicians, businesses, health sector, prisons and universities, on the benefits of this simple practice. It is no wonder that everyone is talking about it. Google in California were reported to send there teams on mindfulness courses, prisons are finding by using mindfulness programs the level of aggression towards one another is decreasing, London transport reported that since setting up the programs the rate of time off sick fell by 50%. This is something the government are monitoring to get the unemployed back to work. What research is showing is that people who practice mindfulness are more creative, connected, focused, have more clarity and compassion for others.
So what does mindfulness mean? “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” Jon Kabat Zinn.
Mindfulness helps us stay focused in the present moment not being taken over by our thoughts, but simply being aware of our thoughts in a non judgemental way. We learn to respond not react to situations in a more calm and centred way as we become more aware of our whole experience, not trying to make it fit into the way we want our experience to be but surrendering to what is happening in the present moment. By looking at our thought patterns more closely we can begin to change what is not working for us creating a more peaceful inner being. As people we are always doing, mindfulness is the practice of being.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, by having a mindfulness practice you will increases grey matter in your brain which encourages learning, memory capacity and regulates emotions. The studies also found high left brain activity, associated with positive responses and feelings as well as a boost in the immune system. By practicing mindfulness the participants were found to be much happier in their everyday life. The psychological benefits were astonishing, showing anxiety, depression and irritability to decrease.
Studies worldwide have found great benefits on our bodies, such as lowering stress, slowing down the nervous system, reducing blood pressure, chronic pain and cancer. Reports are showing that it is also helpful with drug and alcohol dependency. The Dalai Lama has been a participant and campaigner for mindfulness practices in the west. Other reports suggest our attention and awareness can extend to our DNA according the results.
One of the head mindfulness trainers at Bangor University stated that she had noticed how much happier and compassionate the participants were after just eight weeks of practice.
Mindfulness is not just being researched for mental illness but in schools too. Children of five years of age were trained using the mindfulness techniques, again the results were the same as adults, better concentration, less anxious, more present and confident.
Mindfulness consists of sitting meditation, body scanning, mindful movement, learning to be non judgemental about self and others, noticing thoughts and feelings. The key is to PRACTICE everyday.