Modern or Western mindfulness has slowly started to earn it's strides with more and more neuroscientific studies showing the effectiveness of the practice.
It is literally changing lives for the better.
The reason why mindfulness works, is because it ask us to do something that is counter-intuitive to the way we usually do life. Most of the struggles we are in, are created by our own minds. Mindfulness gives us a way out of those struggles, by mostly paying attention without judgement or changing our attention. Our mind is like quicksand. We find ourselves in a sticky situation and instead of stopping and slowly taking ourselves out, we fight it and find ourselves going in deeper and deeper. Through meditation you learn to observe your internal processes and create the space to choose to respond, rather then to react.
Aside from this, mindfulness (MBCT-Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, which I teach) offers a range of insight and information on how your view affects how you feel and what you do. You learn a new and more mindful way to relate to your problems.
Mindfulness is a skill set that helps you build mental resilience
According to science, mindfulness can give you these benefits:
- reduces anxiety and stress
- less feelings of depression
- increases body satisfaction
- boost working memory
- less emotional reactivity
- more relationship satisfaction
- better focus
The background of modern mindfulness
MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) was developed in the 1970's by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He created it as a secular program which helps people with chronic stress and chronic pain. It had drawn the attention of psychologists who were interested in developing a mindfulness practice more focused on people with depression. They went on to develop MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy). MBCT can help in the prevention of mental health problems, relapse of depression and with anxiety/other mental health conditions.
More recently, a new training has been developed called MiCBT (Mindfulness-intergrated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). This form is primarily used by licensed therapists.
What mindfulness is not
There are quite some misconceptions out there and for the sake of clarity it is best if we get those out of the way.
1. Mindfulness is not a spiritual practice
Modern mindfulness has developed far from the Buddhist roots that it has. It is mainly based upon neuroscientific evidence and psychology. Meditation in itself has roots in many religions, mainly as a way to quiet the mind and seek a deeper connection to God. Christianity for example does this through contemplative prayer. With practicing modern mindfulness and meditation, we merely seek to understand ourselves better and learn exercises which help improve life for us and the people around us. If you wish to turn your meditation practice into a spiritual one, then use it to connect to God. If you don't, then it's merely really great brain training.
2. Mindfulness is not only about meditating
Besides from learning to turn our attention inwards, so we can get to know ourselves better and create space to choose our behaviors, we also learn to turn our attention outwards. We live in our thoughts way more then is good for us and at the same time we are missing out on life. There are so many experiences right here in every moment. These are the small joys of life that you now get to fully experience.
3. When you practice mindfulness you have to be calm all the time
When I was teaching in Amsterdam, my business was called Mindful Rebel. This was due to someone looking at me dancing weird and having fun at a festival and then telling me 'That I can't behave that way as a mindfulness teacher'. I thought that was hilarious. Adding mindfulness to your life is not another expectation you have to place on yourself. It is a tool that can help you, but you don't have to make it your identity. I'm just silly old me, stumbling through life an using mindfulness to make the most of it.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
If you would like to start your own mindfulness practice, then have a look at the 'Find your Calm'-program, which I offer. This program is fully based upon the original MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy)-training. It will give you all the tools you need to add some mindfulness to your everyday life.