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What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a tool which helps us to be present. Through paying close attention to our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations as they arise, moment by moment, with an attitude of openness and non-judgemental acceptance, mindfulness helps us to create a more harmonious relationship with the mind, allowing us to experience more peace, fulfilment and wellbeing in our lives.

Being secular in nature, it can be learned by anyone, regardless of background or faith.

The mind is like a butterfly. It is always in motion, constantly flitting from one stream of thought to the next. Through deep-seated habit, we get so distracted by the movements of the butterfly mind that we fail to notice the richness, simplicity and beauty of the here and now.

When we make the present moment the focus of our attention, we create space between ourselves and the mind. Rather than getting lost in the mind’s endless stories and dramas, we learn to step back and watch the mind objectively, with an attitude of openness and curiosity.

We learn to
see the thoughts, not be the thoughts. Shining the light of awareness on our old, habitual patterns, with an attitude of acceptance and kindness, enables us to befriend the mind rather than fight it and can also help us to grow in self-compassion.

Mindfulness helps us to fundamentally change how we relate to our thoughts and feelings and can be of huge benefit to those who struggle with patterns such as stress, worry, anxiety, fear, self-criticism or depression.

It also enables us to see that our thoughts, feelings and emotions are only part of who we are - that there is another dimension of our being that is aware of (and therefore greater than) the mind.

Many of us, even those who are relatively happy, have a sense that there is ’something missing’ in our lives.

Mindfulness is often described as a sense of ‘coming home’. When we are fully present in the moment and not engaging with the mind, this feeling of lack, of incompleteness, disappears. In these moments, we experience a deeper sense of peace, humbleness and connection with ourselves and with the world around us. I believe that this is the ‘something’ that we are all looking for.

Although secular mindfulness has its roots in the ancient Buddhist tradition, it has now become firmly established in the mainstream. As the result of a growing body of scientific evidence that is verifying the positive effects of mindfulness, an ever-increasing number of organisations (including The Government, The NHS, schools, prisons and numerous large companies) are now recognising the many benefits it has to offer.