What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is all about learning to direct our attention to our experience as it unfolds, moment by moment, with open-minded curiosity and acceptance. Rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen, it trains us to respond skilfully to whatever is happening right now, be that good or bad.
In adults, mindfulness training has been shown to improve health and wellbeing. People of all ages report after taking a mindfulness course that they have found that they can learn more effectively, think more clearly, perform better and feel calmer, less anxious and less depressed. Mindfulness is now recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence in the UK and GPs are referring adults on 8 week courses to reduce stress and help prevent recurrent depression. It is increasingly being used in business to improve staff wellbeing and satisfaction, in sports training to improve performance, and with children and young people in schools to enhance wellbeing and learning.
Brain imaging studies show that mindfulness practice reliably and profoundly alters the structure and function of the brain to improve the quality of thought, feeling and concern for others.
Mindfulness is always learned in a highly practical way, through experience rather than talk. We gradually learn to direct our attention in a more focused way to whatever is actually happening - whether it be our breathing, the sensations in our body, thoughts and feelings, or everyday activities such as walking and eating.
What Is Mindful Self-Compassion?
Mindful Self-Compassion combines the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion to enhance our capacity for emotional wellbeing.
Most of us feel compassion when a close friend is struggling. What would it be like to receive that same caring attention from yourself when you need it the most? This requires a shift in attention—recognizing that as a human being, you, also, are a worthy of compassion. Self-compassion is learned, in part, by connecting with our own innate ability to be compassionate which in turn expands our capacity to be compassionate with others.
Burgeoning research shows that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional wellbeing, coping with life challenges, lower levels of anxiety and depression, healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and more satisfying personal relationships. It is an inner strength that enables us to be more fully human—to acknowledge our shortcomings, learn from them, and make necessary changes with an attitude of kindness and self-respect.
Mindfulness provides us with the skills to know when we are hurting. Self-Compassion enables us to respond to that pain or difficulty in a kind and caring fashion.
Mudita - to be happy in the joy of others!