If I’m not careful I tend to make a lot of assumptions in my daily life.
One of the most common assumptions I regularly make at the moment is that everyone knows what I am talking about when I start banging on about mindfulness. However, a few recent comments have made me realise that the old saying isn’t far wrong.
Well, let me be more precise, making this assumption is actually making an “Ass out of
U and Me” as I keep forgetting that mindfulness is still very new to lots of people and in our busy world many people don’t have the time to read articles about something that they assume is just a ‘fad’.
So, let me attempt to give you a quick and easy summary of what Mindfulness IS and what IT IS NOT. I am lucky enough to have been on a MISP (Mindfulness in Schools Project) course this week about teaching mindfulness to pre-teens and teenagers and so have learned heaps about the best language to use for an explanation of mindfulness. At least armed with this key information, busy parents can choose whether or not to find out more about this approach to life and also whether or not it sounds like something that may be beneficial to them. At this point it is really important to point out that mindfulness won’t be for everyone but at least if you know what it is you can make a decision about what impact it may or may not have on your own life.
Firstly, it’s probably easier to explain what mindfulness isn’t. So, in no particular order, it’s not:
- particularly new
- nor is it Buddhism
- relaxation techniques
- nor about chanting mantras
- or finally about attempting to empty your mind.
Getting this list out of the way should hopefully dispel some of the popular myths surrounding mindfulness. Equally as important is to challenge the idea that mindfulness is only for the treatment of mental illness. Yes, mindfulness is prescribed on the NHS to treat depression and anxiety but it is also very helpful generally for people’s wellbeing and to help nourish higher levels of contentment in day-to-day life.
So, I hear you shout…I’m still confused! Let’s therefore crack on with the list of what mindfulness is. It is:
- a science, not a religion – it was developed by a molecular biologist called Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts.
- about alleviating suffering by living in the present moment following a clearly structured course (usually learned through an 8 week course along the lines of the self-help book Finding Peace in a Frantic World…. by Williams and Penman)
- and about learning to attend to the body, the senses, the mood and the mind.
- It is undeniably derived from Buddhist psychology beginning thousands of years ago
- and so as well as cultivating awareness in the present moment, it combines the development of the skills of empathy and self-compassion too.
- Mindfulness is inclusive of meditative practice which has been scientifically proven through MRI scans to strengthen the part of the brain associated with emotional regulation and to ‘shrink’ the part associated with stress.
- lots of techniques and tips that help us observe our thoughts and respond effectively to these. Therefore there is nothing stopping anyone trying out some mindfulness strategies, knowing that although only a ‘light-touch’ exploration of mindful living, they may have a positive impact on daily life.
So does this still sound like something that you would like to know more about? There are articles and advice pieces shared on our Facebook page most days so please feel free to ‘like’ this page in order to become better informed about how to incorporate mindful moments into your everyday life. Also, the blog’s home page has more of an explanation about mindfulness if you have a few more minutes to spare today.
Finally, please do not hesitate to ask any questions that you still have about ‘mindfulness for mummies’ in the comments section below. I would be more than happy to help. xx