What is Mindfulness?

Respond more consciously and creatively to life

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention on purpose in the present moment, with an attitude of non judgemental kindness towards ourselves and our experience. It is simple but not easy. It is innate but underdeveloped. 

The practice of Mindfulness is an opportunity to slow down and pay attention to how the body, mind, and emotions actually operate in real time, in this moment.

This is done through formal Mindfulness meditation practices and bringing Mindfulness into everyday life.

The formal practices include the body scan meditation, awareness of the breath, thoughts and sounds meditations and mindful movement, all of which direct the attention  inwardly.  

We learn to bring this mindful awareness into our lives by paying attention and bringing present-moment awareness to everyday activities. To do this we don’t have to stop what we are normally doing to be mindful. This is key to the trans-formative potential of the courses.

Stress re-activity, the feeling of being stressed and pressured, is in many cases a bad habit. Mindfulness encourages us to investigate our direct experiences of living, working, and relating to others and through this learning to recognise the habit patterns that may be contributing to our suffering.

All these practices are restorative and help physiologically regulate the nervous system. The power to self-regulate the nervous system and the power to re-pattern our neurological pathways is now known to be measurable and teachable.

Contemporary Mindfulness has made these inner resources accessible through the development of a learnable format .

About the research:

Mindfulness-based approaches have proven effective in decreasing symptoms of anxiety (Miller, Fletcher, and Kabat-Zinn 1995), obsessive-compulsive disorder (Baxter et al. 1992), and chronic pain ( Kabat-Zinn, Chapman, and Salmon 1987).

They have also been shown to be helpful in reducing the detrimental effects of psoriasis (Kabat-Zinn et al., 1998), increasing a sense of empathy and spirituality (Shapiro, Schwartz, and Bonner 1998), increasing well-being (Brown and Ryan 2003), preventing relapse in depression (Segal et al. 2007) and drug addiction (Parks, Anderson, and Marlatt 2001), and decreasing stress and enhancing quality of life for those struggling with breast and prostate cancer (Carlson, L., et al. 2007).

Summarised by Bob Stahl, Ph.D.

Recommendations


Resources to help you sustain your Mindfulness practice and develop awareness. Audio, Books, retreat centres, Other mindfulness/ Buddhist organisations that offer follow-up support:

Free Mindfulness guided Meditations

English:

French:

Méditation guidée de Jon Kabat-Zinn (youTube)

Fichiers Audio de MBCT France

Retreats and follow ups events to help sustain your practice

Books

  • Mindfulness: Diverse Perspectives on its Meaning, Origins and Applications Edited by Mark Williams and Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Brach, Tara. Radical Acceptance.
  • Brach, Tara. True Refuge
  • Brantley, Jeffrey. Calming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Anxiety, Fear, and Panic.
  • Germer, Christopher. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions.
  • Guanaratana, Bhante: Mindfulness in Plain English.
  • Harris, Russ. The Happiness Trap (Based on ACT: A revolutionary mindfulness-based programme or overcoming stress, anxiety and depression).
  • Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Full Catastrophe Living.
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  • Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Wherever you Go there you Are.
  • Kornfield, Jack. After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.
  • Neff, Kristin. Self-Compassion.
  • Salzberg, Sharon. Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace.
  • Siegel, Ronald D. The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems.
  • John Teasdale, Mark Williams and Zindel Segal.The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress
  • Williams, Mark: The Mindful Way Through Depression
  • Williams, Mark: Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World.
  • Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
  • Mark Williams and Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness: Diverse Perspectives on its Meaning, Origins and Applications.

Apps

Buddhist studies

  • suttacentral.net – The most comprehensive site for comparative work, multiple translations available.
  • accesstoinsight.org – An excellent site with many sutta translations and texts pertaining to the Pali tradition.
  • dharmaseed.org – Regularly updated collection of dharma talks, including talks by the core faculty teachers from Bhodi college.
  • dharmafarer.org – Great collection of Piya Tan’s Sutta Study materials.