The Benefits of Mindfulness

September can be a very busy time of the year for many of us. The summer holidays are over and it’s back to work, school or college as the case may be. The demands placed upon us – financial and otherwise – can sometimes feel overwhelming and the chilled out days of June, July and August seem a dim and distant memory. Often we respond by gritting our teeth, hoping for the best and slotting into ‘automatic pilot’ trusting that everything will be alright in the end!  Sometimes you may find yourself thinking wistfully that there has to be a better way of handling the pressures of modern–day life.  One way is to practice mindfulness in your daily living.

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives. It will not eliminate life’s pressures, but it can help us respond to them in a calmer manner that benefits our heart, head, and body.

Mindfulness helps us recognise and step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events. It cultivates clarity, insight and understanding. As we begin to see situations more clearly we become more creative in how we respond to them and thus achieve balance and resilience at work and at home.

The founder of modern day Mindfulness is Jon Kabat-Zinn who established the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the late 1970’s. According to Kabat-Zinn , mindfulness means paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. This is achieved by the practice of specially developed mindfulness exercises through which practitioners learn to slow down or stop brain chatter and automatic or habitual reactions, experiencing the present moment as it really is.

Although Mindfulness may have had its origins in the east, the benefits of mindfulness are now relatively mainstream.  Extensive research has established a positive correlation between mindfulness and stress reduction.

Mindfulness is for everyone from all walks of life, young or old. It is not a religion and there is no necessary religious component to mindfulness – anyone, with any belief system, can enjoy the benefits.

Recently a mindfulness group was established here at the Fighting Blindness Insight Counselling Service in Dublin. It meets every Wednesday between 11am and 12.30pm. We will be organising an ‘Introduction to Mindfulness’ session in the coming weeks for existing and new practitioners. There is no charge but booking is essential as places are limited. If you are interested in Mindfulness or in any of our support services, please call the office on 01 674 6496 or email insight@fightingblindness.ie.

“Yesterday I was clever and sought to change the world. Today I am wise and seek only to change myself.”    – Rhumi