What is mindfulness?

Much of the time, our attention is focused on our preoccupations with memories, fantasies, plans or worries, and we behave automatically, without awareness of our actions. This can cause confusion and upset in our lives, and can lead to stress, anxiety and depression. Most of us have experienced these states of mind at some time.

Using mindfulness, we can learn to break this cycle, switch off the ‘auto-pilot’, observe our thoughts, sensations and emotions, and come to a place of acceptance. A place where the chaos of life still occurs around us, but we are not caught up in it, and where we can learn to be with whatever is happening, knowing that there is now that quiet spot inside us; our still centre.

With mindfulness we can find a way of focusing our attention on the experience happening in the present moment, doing so in a non-judgmental and accepting way. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed this approach, says that mindful attention includes an attitude of compassion, interest, friendliness and open-heartedness towards the experience observed in the present moment, regardless of how pleasant or unpleasant it might be.