Clive Burks, Counsellor Counselling & Couples Counselling in Bath

Mindfulness Introduction

Mindfulness is at least 2500 years old. Over the past 30 years Jon Kabat-Zinn has developed mindfulness to treat a wide range of conditions through his eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course in clinics across America. MBSR has been adapted by Mark Williams and associates and developed in the UK as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). There are now 8 week courses being held all over the UK and the course is recommended for the treatment of depression on the government’s NICE guidelines. I define Mindfulness as non judgemental awareness in the present moment facilitated by focusing on one of our senses including interoception and proprioception. Jon Kabat-Zinn says 'Mindfulness can be thought of as an openhearted, non judgemental, present moment awareness, the direct, non conceptual knowing of experience as it unfolds, in its momentary lingering and in its passing away'.

One of the major benefits is greater awareness of the present moment and self acceptance in the now. MBSR and MBCT include bodyscan, sitting meditation and mindful movement ie. walking and gentle yoga postures. Informal practice can happen at any time when we focus awareness on our senses and become aware of the present moment.

To practice sitting mindfulness meditation it is best to adopt an upright dignified sitting posture either on a straight backed chair or on a cushion on the floor. If this is too difficult then you can lay down on your back either on your bed or on a mat or rug/blanket on the floor. Then you are ready to begin noticing your breath, the sensations and feelings of the in and out breath. Focusing on the breath as it enters your abdomen and your belly expands and on the out breath as your belly contracts or on the breath as it passes through your nostrils or wherever feels most appropriate. If you have difficulties with breathing it is possible to focus on the sense of your body as it touches the floor or chair or on sounds you hear.

By focusing on one’s breathing or on one of the senses it is possible to be present in the moment and when thoughts, impulses, feelings or body sensations are occurring, just noticing and letting them be, noticing them and letting them go. Escorting your attention gently and compassionately back to the feeling of your breath and continuing this process for the duration of your formal mindfulness practice. Mindfulness can give a sense of spaciousness and quiet stillness which is something that is existing all the time but not something we are always able to access. This is due to our busy and active thinking minds. Either thinking we will be happy if we accumulate more or have an instant easy pleasurable experience without thought to the side affects on our body and soul or being in ongoing survival thinking and alert mode leading to more stress.

The principle is simple but the practice is more challenging, as we have to make time to just be and to keep returning our attention to our focus, doing this with an attitude of curiosity, compassion and non judgement.

I have a book list of Mindfulness Literature with my comments and a list of website resources these are available at the first session. justCLICK HERE

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