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What is Mindfulness?
‘Mindfulness’ is a hot topic in Western psychology: increasingly recognised as an effective way to reduce stress, increase self-awareness, enhance emotional intelligence, and effectively handle painful thoughts and feelings.
Although mindfulness has only recently been embraced by Western psychology, it is an ancient practice found in a wide range of Eastern philosophies, including Buddhism, Taoism and Yoga. Mindfulness involves consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience with openness, interest, and receptiveness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a world authority on the use of mindfulness training in the management of clinical problems, defines it as: "Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."
Mindfulness is about waking up, connecting with ourselves, and appreciating the fullness of each moment of life. Kabat-Zinn calls it, "The art of conscious living." It is a profound way to enhance psychological and emotional resilience, and increase life satisfaction.
Definitions of Mindfulness
“Bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.” (Marlatt & Kristeller)
“Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn).
“Consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience, with openness, interest and receptiveness.” (The Happiness Trap)
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Practising mindfulness helps you:
- to be fully present, here and now
- to experience unpleasant thoughts and feelings safely
- to become aware of what you’re avoiding
- to become more connected to yourself, to others and to the world around you
- to increase self-awareness
- to become less disturbed by and less reactive to unpleasant experiences
- to learn the distinction between you and your thoughts
- to have more direct contact with the world, rather than living through your thoughts
- to learn that everything changes; that thoughts and feelings come and go like the weather
- to have more balance, less emotional volatility
- to experience more calm and peacefulness
- to develop self-acceptance and self-compassion
Mindfulness and Therapy
Mindfulness training has emerged as a powerful, evidence-based tool for enhancing psychological health. It has been clinically proven in a wide range of clinical disorders, including chronic pain, anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, OCD, substance abuse, and borderline personality disorder.
Mindfulness & Coaching
Mindfulness is a hot topic in coaching. Experts increasingly recognise that developing mindfulness
skills is an effective way to improve performance, reduce stress,
enhance emotional intelligence, increase life satisfaction, and develop
leadership skills. These experts include such luminaries as Daniel
Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, and Richard Boyatzis,
author of Resonant Leadership.
The ACT model, with its emphasis on
mindfulness, values and action, is ideally suited for executive
coaching, life coaching, and sports coaching. Values provide inspiration, motivation, and
direction. Mindfulness skills provide many benefits, including the
ability to reduce stress, rise above self-limiting beliefs, improve
focus, develop self-awareness, facilitate calmness, and handle
difficult emotions such as frustration, resentment, boredom and
anxiety. ACT interventions can be incorporated into other coaching
models, or ACT can be used as its own self-contained model.
Benefits of Mindfulness in Life and Work
The practise of mindfulness enables you to:
- improve focus and concentration
- increase self-awareness
- reduce the impact and influence of stressful thoughts and feelings
- facilitate better relationships
- catch self-defeating behaviours, and substitute more effective ones
- become aware of self-defeating thought processes, and 'let them go'
All of this boils down to 3 major benefits: improved performance, reduced stress, and greater satisfaction in work and life.
The Benefits of Mindfulness for Therapists & Coaches
- Facilitates empathy, compassion, and unconditional positive regard.
- Allows you to stay focused and present, even when your client is not.
- Helps you stay grounded, centred and composed, even in the midst of clients’ emotional turmoil
- Enables a healthy attitude to therapeutic outcomes: neither complacent nor overly-attached.
- Helps you maintain direction and focus for therapy.
- Increases your skills at observing your clients’ responses.