Are you present in your life?

So often, we are on "automatic pilot", reacting to life. Not really paying attention to what is happening in our lives. Often times we find ourselves thinking about something else, remembering things, imagining possible futures, and acting out habitual patterns, or more accurately, reacting to people and situations based on old habits of perceiving, thinking, feeling, and behaving. In this way we are either in the past or the future not in the present.

Mindfulness meditation involves intentionally stepping out of automatic pilot to be present, aware and responsive. This attention has a quality of curiosity, patience, spaciousness and care. In other words, mindfulness involves learning to direct our attention to our experience as it unfolds, moment by moment, with open-minded curiosity and acceptance. Rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen, it trains us to respond skilfully to whatever is happening right now, be that good or bad.

Mindfulness was initially developed by Professor Jon Kabat Zinn over 30 years ago to assist him in his work with patients suffering from a wide range of medical problems, ranging from chronic pain to cancer and heart disease. Research demonstrated that patients overall quality of life, and for those with terminal illness their chance of remaining in remission was significantly improved. This was further developed in the 1990's to address depression. The focus of this work was on the connection between thoughts, emotion and behaviour. Research found that mindfulness meditation had a significant effect on patients who had had three or more episodes of depression.

However, mindfulness is not just useful for people with specific health problems; it can be used by anyone to improve their overall quality of life and ability to live life to the full. Practising mindfulness has been proven repeatedly to improve health and wellbeing, and to give people more insight into their emotions. It can help us to notice stress building, and when our minds become caught in unhelpful thought patterns. With mindfulness we can respond skilfully, with choice rather than through habitual reaction. It also helps people of all ages to learn more effectively, think more clearly, improve attention and concentration, perform better and to feel calmer, less anxious, and less depressed.

Mindfulness is increasingly being used in business to improve staff wellbeing and satisfaction, in sports training to improve performance, and with children and young people in schools to enhance wellbeing and learning. Mindfulness is now recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence.

Read this article in the Telegraph: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/11/julie-myerson-mindfulness-based-cognitive-therapy




6 week courses are run regularly in East London. Please contact Catherine for further information.


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