The definition that resonated with me the most while studying and researching mindfulness is Dr Judson Brewer’s. A Psychiatrist and Neuroscientist based at Brown University USA, he views and teaches mindfulness from a practical standpoint; one that helps us to bring attention to our own mental processes; to see how our minds work and to help us develop the wisdom to work with them. For him, mindfulness enables us to take a step back and recognise patterns of behaviour and make appropriate changes.
This best embodies my aim for mindfulness coaching; mindfulness is a tool we can all use to understand and help ourselves. Mindfulness is not complicated or taxing. It can be the easiest thing in the world – once you know how.
Mindfulness is about being fully ‘present’ in the moment. This means it doesn’t really matter where you are or what you’re doing (to a certain extent!), it’s learning to be aware of where you are or what you’re doing. Obviously the physical you is always there but very often our thoughts can be somewhere else (dinner, chores, shopping, deadlines…) This perception of mindfulness is based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition, and is explored more fully in the mindfulness coaching programme.
Mindfulness is a technique that allows us first to notice, and then train our attention to, what is going on around us. It could be small ‘moments’ like being aware off the drink we consume or longer, more purposeful moments, like sitting in meditation and focusing on our breath. So, mindfulness helps us to be more aware of what is actually happening, rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen. Hence the talk about the present moment; the here and now.
Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware in a way that is non-judgmental. We have been conditioned to evaluate, compare and draw parallels between our experience and the experiences or expectations of others. Mindfulness lets us develop a degree of acceptance that is freeing.
For this reason, it is proven to help manage and prevent feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. It enables anyone who practices it to live with more appreciation and contentment.