The creator of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course, Jon Kabat-Zinn, defines Mindfulness as “the awareness that arises from paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to things as they are”. This, of course, is easier said than done – and why bother, anyway?
By practising to keep the breath or other sensations in our body in sustained attention, we learn to diminish the tendency of our mind to rule us through impulses and habits. Through seeing our often unhelpful mental patterns more clearly, and meeting these gently and kindly, we can learn to deal with the stresses and strains of life in a new way. Through practising Mindfulness we can learn to make choices that are more conscious and less reactive, becoming more understanding and responsive in our relationships with others, calmer. The key to success is continued practice.
Does it work?
Mindfulness is much better experienced than described. You will know if it works for you only by trying it; but there is now a large body of research evidence. For example, researchers have found that mindfulness meditation produces changes over time in the brain’s grey matter, including in areas associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection; an early study showed that in eight weeks it also improved the immune response to ‘flu vaccine.
Developed in a medical setting in the United States over 30 years ago, the MBSR course caught the attention of researchers seeking ways to help patients with depressive relapse, one of whom then worked at Bangor University in North Wales. They developed Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a variant of MBSR, which is now becoming a treatment of choice in the NHS for the prevention of recurrent depression.
For more information about Mindfulness, click this link to the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University and this link to the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.
For a summary of the scientific research on mindfulness, and more about its history and application, click this link to the Greater Good website, University of California, Berkeley.
The course is taught by John Skrine. John has had a daily meditation practice for over fifteen years, and has trained on the Master’s pathway in teaching Mindfulness at the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University. Assessed as a competent mindfulness teacher on the Mindfulness-Based Interventions Teacher Assessment Criteria (MBI-TAC), John adheres to the UK Network for Mindfulness-based Teachers good practice guidelines for teaching mindfulness-based courses. He is listed with BAMBA - the British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches. This network upholds quality standards in Mindfulness teaching, providing independent confirmation of continued adherence to good practice, including regular supervision, CPD and appropriate insurance. He is also a trustee of The Mindfulness Network.