If you’ve ever jumped in the car or on the bus at point A, only to find yourself pulling up at point B with absolutely no recollection of how you got there or anything you saw or heard along the way, you could use some mindfulness in your life. In reality, the above scenario is something most of us have experienced at some point. This ‘automatic pilot’ mode is borne out of habit and is the antithesis of mindfulness, which can be loosely defined as training our attention to notice and be aware of our full experience of each moment, noticing particularly the quality of attention we give to our current circumstances. It’s a skill rooted in the tradition of religious meditation but the secular form of mindfulness most of us refer to today was popularised by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic and Centre for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He defines mindfulness as, ‘paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.’
Developments in neuroscience mean that the benefits of mindfulness are being proven scientifically. A recent study from Harvard Medical School found that individuals completing an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction course (MBSR) reported significant increases in psychological wellbeing, and showed both increased levels of mood-boosting neurotransmitters such as serotonin and grey matter density in the hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with learning and memory. Think of it this way: just as lifting weights exercises our muscles so they become stronger and grow, mindfulness creates new neural pathways in the brain that enable us to reshape the ‘kinks’ in our thinking for the better, allowing us to change any ingrained negative responses into more positive ones.
Indeed, over the last 10 years there’s been a lot of research into the practice of mindfulness and all the indications are that it’s helpful in achieving an optimal mental health state. Mindful meditation used to be seen as hippyish and New Age. Now there’s such strong science attesting to its efficacy that it’s even available on the NHS, which indicates how much there’s been a shift in perception. At Bryn Tanat Hall, we’ll show you how to harness the power of this amazing technique so that you don’t just benefit from it during your time with us but also in the weeks, months and years to come – it’s a skill that lasts a lifetime.