Mindfulness is the practice of bringing deliberate attention to the present moment, without judgement. This may seem like a very simple idea, however in reality most people spend a significant proportion of their time on autopilot – thinking about things that have already happened or planning for what is yet to come. A recent study at Harvard found that the average person spends at least 47% of their time not paying attention to the present moment experience, instead getting lost in their thoughts, worries and stresses. The practice of meditation helps cultivate mindfulness in a way that assists individuals to better understand the role that their automatic thoughts are playing, so they can learn to consciously disengage and let them go. Becoming more mindful allows people to really connect with who they are and to appreciate the fullness of every moment, letting go of the stresses that come from automatic thoughts.
Despite having its foundations within Eastern contemplative traditions, over the past 30 years mindfulness has received wider acceptance in mainstream Western society. John Kabat-Zinn notably developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts in the 1980s as a way to help patients suffering from chronic illness to self-regulate their subjective management of pain in order to better cope with their experiences. Since that time the teachings and practice of mindfulness have extended to many other disciplines, with particular attention coming from the applied field of Positive Psychology. Mindfulness meditation has been subject to countless scientific studies and is shown to be highly effective in managing stress and anxiety, whilst also promoting greater self-awareness and enhancing emotional regulation. As little as 10 – 20 minutes a day can make all the difference.
Listen to Andy Puddicombe from Headspace giving a Ted talk on mindfulness and the importance of taking time out.
Practical Information – Learn what mindfulness is all about, including lots of tips and resources for bringing more of it into your daily life.
Free Mindfulness Course – Learn how to apply mindfulness through this free online and self-paced course.
Interview – Listen to Dr. Craig Hassad of Monash University talk about Mindfulness and its benefits on Radio National.
Guided Meditations – Download some guided meditations from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Centre.
The Science – Learn about the science underpinning the value of mindfulness and meditation.