Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Have you ever driven somewhere, only to arrive at your destination with little memory of the journey?
This experience is what we call automatic pilot, and we spend most of our days operating on this level.
For so much of our lives, we’re not really there – we’re not fully present, and can often be miles way without even noticing.
On autopilot, we’re more likely to be reactive. Our thoughts, feelings, and events around us can trigger old (and unhelpful) thinking habits.
Think about the last time you got irritable with someone you love. Was it really what they did, or said, that made you feel snappy? Or was it that their behaviour triggered unhelpful thoughts, which created an unhelpful reaction?
By becoming more aware of our thoughts from moment to moment, we release ourselves and experience freedom – we don’t have to go down the same old mental “ruts” which might have caused us issues in the past.
What are the benefits?
Research done on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (the type of courses we offer here at Mindfulness Leeds) has proven that it has many benefits, including:
- Improves sleep
- Aids relaxation
- Increases energy levels
- Lifts mood
- Increases ability in coping with pain and loss
- Increases life satisfaction
- Increases self-acceptance and self-confidence
- Boosts your immune system
- Helps to decrease depression and prevent relapse
- Lessens anxiety
- Reduces compulsive behaviour (drinking, smoking, eating, shopping, gambling, etc)
This all has a huge impact on our life, including the way our overall well-being, our careers, and our relationships.
What’s the outcome?
The aim of a mindfulness practice (hint – it’s a continuous thing!) is to become more aware of how we think and behave to improve our life. We learn how to respond to situations with choice, rather than reacting automatically.
We do that by practicing becoming more aware of where our attention is, and deliberately changing the focus of attention, over and over again.