Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being researched scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.
The cultivation of mindfulness comes from Buddhism, but most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life.
It is a skill that we can learn and further develop, that allows us to be present for what’s going on in our daily lives, to notice and to face our difficulties with kindness rather than avoiding them. It can help us to be more attentive, settle the mind, recognise and calm the criticism our minds often place us, and live in a more compassionate way which can benefit not only ourselves but those we encounter in our day to day lives.
Research indicates that over time, mindfulness can bring about long-term changes in mood and levels of happiness and well-being. As well as, positively affecting the brain’s patterns which underlie day-to-day anxiety, stress, depression and irritability so that when they arise, they reduce more easily.
Professor emeritus Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, helped to bring the practice of mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine and demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health, attitudes, and behaviours.