How can we teach ourselves to appreciate our life instead of rushing through it? ‘Mindfulness’ training has been gaining wide approval for reducing stress and anxiety and learning how to be present. The course teaches simple techniques like meditation and gentle movement to help us become more focused, relaxed and aware.
Mindfulness describes a way of paying attention. It’s about being aware of whatever is happening in the present moment, and noticing rather than judging or reacting to that experience. Participants learn to bring mindfulness into daily life, whether walking to work, eating lunch or taking a shower.
Mindfulness courses are popular with people who simply want to increase their general wellbeing, or who are interested in meditation and would like a structured framework to help get going on a regular meditation practice. They are also recognised by the medical community as a means of reducing anxiety and depression. In January the Mental Health Foundation published a report showing widespread support for mindfulness training amongst GPs in the UK.
The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course was first developed by Dr.Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the USA.,and has been used over thirty years to help with anxiety, chronic health problems, and general well-being. More recently in the UK, the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course was developed specifically for people with a history of depression. MBCT is recommended by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) for those who have had several episodes of clinical depression in order to reduce significantly the likelihood of future relapse. The two approaches are very closely related and share all the same core techniques and practices.
Slow Down London director Tessa Watt has practiced daily meditation for many years, but still found the Mindfulness approach brought something fresh and powerful. ‘There’s a big emphasis on getting into the body –learning to notice and feel how the body reacts to difficult situations, and to relax with those sensations instead of responding in knee-jerk ways. There’s also a wonderfully practical approach to bringing mindfulness into daily life by training ourselves to be more aware of the little things that bring us joy, and cultivating those moments of openness.’