What is Mindfulness?
What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness is the elusive “how to” of well-being.
Mindfulness is essentially a skills-based training that offers us ways to step back from the mental chatter, worry and over-thinking we often perceive as “normal” ways of living and instead learn to become more engaged with our present-moment reality. It offers us ways to break free from the emotional hold of worries about the past and anxieties about the future. With mindfulness training, we regain a sense of calmness, stability and connection with our lives, work and relationships. By learning to be more aware of our present-moment experience and changing the nature of the relationship that we have with it, we are able to gain more control and enjoy more choice within our busy and stressful lives. Mindfulness skills and practice develop powerful shifts in our attitude, intention and attention – impacting all areas of our lives and allowing us to navigate more skilfully through the inevitable challenges and joys of life.
Evidence-Based Mindfulness Interventions
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) are secular, gold standard, Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) resulting from over thirty years of clinical, evidence based research. Both MBSR and MBCT and are widely accepted and approved as effective interventions for a broad range of issues, including:
- Chronic health problems
- Persistent low mood
- Burn out
- Inability to relax
The UK Mindfulness All Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG) published an evidence-based parliamentary report and policy document entitled Mindful Nation in 2015 with recommendations to implement mindfulness within education, health, the workplace and the criminal justice system to address concerns regarding the increasing mental health issues throughout the UK. The report states:
“Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) have been shown to improve health outcomes in a wide range of clinical and non-clinical populations. MBCT reduces relapse rates amongst patients who have had multiple episodes of depression. Other research includes a recent meta-analysis of 209 studies with a total of 12,145 participants. It concluded that MBIs showed “large and clinically significant effects in treating anxiety and depression, and the gains were maintained at follow-up”. MBIs have also consistently been found to reduce self-reported measures of perceived stress, anger, rumination, and physiological symptoms, while improving positive outlook, empathy, sense of cohesion, self-compassion and overall quality of life. Mindfulness training is associated with reduced reactivity to emotional stimuli, as well as improvements in attention and cognitive capacities.”
The Mental Health Foundation Be Mindful Report 2010 and the Mindful Nation 2015 examined evidence from an extensive, growing body of mindfulness research and report how people who practice mindfulness experience:
- Greater well-being and life satisfaction
- Improved overall quality of life
- Reduced stress, anger and rumination
- Better communication and social skills
- Enhanced professional performance, productivity and satisfaction
- Fewer hospital admissions for heart disease, cancer and infectious diseases
- Improved positive outlook
- Less work-related stress
- More satisfying relationships
- Reduced risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease
- Better decision making abilities
- Greater awareness, understanding and acceptance of their emotions
- Recover from bad moods more quickly
- Improved emotional regulation
- Better executive function
- Higher, more stable self-esteem that is less dependant on external factors
- Increased self awareness
- Greater vitality
- Higher emotional intelligence
- Improved attention
- Better impulse control
- Reduced reactivity
- Reduced addictive behaviour
- 50% less visits to their GP compared with people who don’t meditate
- Less neurosis
- Reduced self-criticism
- Increased empathy
- Reduced absenteeism
Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), in 1979 as an intervention for chronic emotional, psychological and physical issues.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) grew out of MBSR and was developed in the 1990s by Dr Zindel Segal of Toronto University, Professor Mark Williams and Dr John Teasdale both of Cambridge University, for the treatment of recurrent depression.
Judson Brewer MD PhD of Yale and UMass recently developed evidence-based programs that combine neuroscience and mindfulness to address specific health related issues including smoking cessation, emotional/binge eating and anxiety.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
The UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), an advisory organisation for the UK National Health Service, recommends MBCT as a cost-effective treatment preventing relapse in depression.
Mindfulness Insight Courses
Mindfulness Insights combines Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Habit Change curricula to provide professional, accessible, user-friendly mindfulness training in order to address a wide range of issues. Available courses and interventions include:
- Introduction to mindfulness workshops
- Mindfulness day and half day retreats
- 8 week mindfulness courses
- Bespoke workplace mindfulness interventions
- Individual mindfulness coaching
- Mindful Eating
- Specialised programs for smoking cessation, anxiety and overeating