Frequently Asked Mindfulness Questions
01 Isn't Mindfulness just the latest trend?
Mindfulness has been around for 2,500 years with it's origins in ancient Buddhist practices, however Jon Kabit-Zinn brought it to the western world in 1980 and adapted it for a modern approach to these ancient teachings. Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and used mindfulness and meditation as an alternative and natural way to manage stress, illness and chronic pain with solid scientific positive results.
02 Is Mindfulness just about relaxing?
No, mindfulness is not about learning to relax, it is a way of being and remaining in the present while being aware of what's happening as it's happening within you and around you. It requires a state of awareness, wakefulness and attention to notice when the mind has wandered away from the present moment in a kind, curious and non-judgemental way and bringing back awareness to the present moment. A state of relaxation can sometimes be felt following a mindfulness meditation practice but not always.
03 Do I have to sit cross legged on a cushion?
Not if you don't want to. Mindfulness meditation can be done this way or sitting upright on a chair, using a stool or kneeling on a cushion, standing or lying down. What's important is that you find the most comfortable position to meditate. During our 8 week mindfulness courses you will be given the opportunity to try out different meditation positions so that you can see what suits you best as it's different for everyone. Personally I like to use a meditation stool for my own formal practice or a straight backed chair.
04 Does Mindfulness conflict with my religion?
Mindfulness is a secular form of training the mind, available to anyone regardless of any religion or none. Mindfulness does not belong to any belief system. It is a technique that can enrich and deepen your life experience by learning how to fully engage in your present moment experience with openness, caring, compassion and a non-judgemental attitude.
05 Is the aim to make your mind go blank or get rid of thoughts?
Not at all, it’s about increasing our awareness to notice our habits of mind and allowing thoughts to come and go freely. This offers us a space to see clearly and to choose our decisions and actions so that we can respond skilfully to life's events, people, triggers and challenges.
06 Is it just about positive thinking?
Mindfulness is about becoming aware that thoughts are just thoughts, whether positive or negative and bringing an attitude of acceptance to them all with curiosity, kindness and openness so that in our present moment experience we can allow ourselves to be with any emotion such as anger, fear, sadness as well as love or happiness.
07 Is Mindfulness easy?
Changing old patterns and habits of mind requires some effort, persistence and patience in the beginning until new ways of being can be felt. Mindfulness requires a clear intention and motivation to practice training your mind to be more present, so making the time each day is key for change. Once you have reflected on why you want to practice mindfulness and how much you want change, the biggest challenge is remembering to practice it and especially when the thought of 'I am too busy' to practice arises. Attending drop in practice sessions, courses and retreats and having support from like minded people can help deepen and maintain your ongoing practice. The benefits are far reaching and well worth it.
08 Is the eight week course a quick fix for my problems?
Mindfulness meditation is not a quick fix or technique, it takes a little effort, patience and persistence in the beginning as does learning any new skill. As our level of present moment awareness increases and our practice progresses we may see some subtle changes and shifts in what we notice and how we relate to our thoughts, emotions and body sensations, our surroundings and communications. There is now solid scientific research which shows real positive changes to the brain's structure after an eight week mindfulness course. Mindfulness develops and deepens over time and with practice. This increases our attitude of curiosity, openness and a kindly awareness where we develop the ability to step out of automatically and habitually reacting to life's events. Instead we begin to choose how we respond to life's events and challenges without reacting and becoming engaged in them. You learn not to sweat the small stuff and to feel more alive, happier, awake and to really enjoy life to the full as it is.