What is Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular.  This article aims to answer some of the most common questions about mindfulness that we are asked here at Yorkshire Therapy. 
 

Q – How does mindfulness differ from meditation?

It is a common misconception that mindfulness is just a new name for meditation.  Practicing mindfulness does includes some meditation, however it also includes some simply techniques to enable you to give your full attention to day-to-day activities, experiencing every aspect of the simple things, as opposed to processing other information, perhaps worrying about the past of the future.  

Mindfulness meditation is also different to most other meditation.  It is common for meditations to take you on a 'journey' with your mind, relaxing you through visualisation.  With mindfulness meditation, your focus of attention is very much on yourself – perhaps your different senses, perhaps any sensations in your body.
 

Q – How much time does mindfulness take?

The simple answer is 'it depends'.  Some mindfulness courses recommend daily meditation practice of up to an hour, and this is great – although quite unrealistic for many of us, and can result in a loss of interest, despite initial enthusiasm and commitment.  

The approach we teach is a little more 'pragmatic', and as such, more realistic and sustainable.  There is some dedicated mindfulness meditation practice that we encourage, but this is a maximum of 20 minutes, most days.  What we give more of a focus to is the integration of simple mindfulness techniques with your current daily or regular activities – breaking the common habit of allowing your mind to wander off into either reflection or planning mode – something so many of us are familiar with. 
 

Q – What are the benefits of adopting regular Mindfulness practices?

Mindfulness has a number of benefits, and commonly reported examples include:

  • Recognising stress more quickly and managing stress more effectively

  • Re-appreciating some of the 'simple' things in life – the changing seasons, the smell and taste of food, the physical sensations of exercise, etc.

  • Feeling more in control of your life – switching off 'auto-pilot'

  • A sense of increased enjoyment of life. 

Q – Can I already be 'mindful'?

You may well be practicing many of the skills and techniques that we teach on our mindfulness courses, and it is certainly true that some of us are more naturally 'present' that others.  Part of the process of developing mindfulness is becoming more self-aware – recognising when you are in a 'doing' frame of mind as opposed to just 'being'.  Observing this, recognising this and ultimately controlling this is an extremely powerful ability. 
 

Q – How long does it take to learn to be mindful?

Learning mindfulness isn't just about understanding the subject from a cognitive perspective, simply increasing our knowledge.  Moreover, it is about changing our behaviour, and this takes time!  

It is often said that changing a habit requires us to do something different 21 times, and this can be applied to some of the habits we aim to change with mindfulness practice.  However, our main objective is to teach realistic and sustainable mindfulness techniques that can be integrated into every day, benefiting people in all aspects of their life.  We are therefore big believers that mindfulness is a life-long personal development approach, something that will always be with us.

Our courses provide the teaching and support necessary to begin this journey and change some of those habits, and our monthly Mindfulness Share Groups provide a valuable opportunity to meet with other like-minded people to share experiences and challenges – attending as frequently as you wish.

Click here to find out more about our courses and how you can take your own steps into a more mindful life.