What is mindfulness?

Have you ever been in a car and arrived at your destination without much recollection of how you actually got there? Although you were physically in the car during the journey your mind was most likely on autopilot and distracted with maybe thoughts of the past, planning thoughts about the future or maybe a difficult conversation with a colleague or a loved one. Mindfulness meditation techniques cultivate awareness of the present moment so that we are more fully awake to the moment-by-moment experience of our lives and less caught up in a stream of unconscious thought. In this way we are able to move our position from human ‘doings’ to human ‘beings’.

Why does being ‘mindful’ matter?

So often the difficulties we encounter in life come not from our direct experience but from our own unconscious reactions to what we're feeling or thinking (or what we're not feeling or thinking). In other words, we often hijack ourselves with our own judgements of our experience in order to affect what's happening and to avoid what we don't like or want. Mindfulness simply invites us to acknowledge each moment as it is, without trying to change anything, thereby allowing us to respond consciously rather to react automatically to whatever comes up for us (however difficult) in each moment.

What is the difference between ‘mindfulness’ and ‘meditation’?

‘Mindfulness’ and ‘meditation’ are essentially two sides of the same coin with meditation essentially being formal mindfulness practice. Through practising meditation techniques we are actively cultivating mindful awareness that we can then take with us from the meditation chair and into our everyday lives. But this requires commitment and practice, practice, practice!

Do I require special equipment or clothing in order to meditate?

No. For the meditation practices we teach all you need is a quiet space where you won't be disturbed and a chair.

Is meditation the same as chanting?

No. Nor is meditation about ‘blocking thoughts’, ‘clearing the mind’ or even ‘sleeping’!

Do I have to be a Buddhist to meditate?

While it is true that mindfulness meditation has its roots in Buddhism, our approach to teaching mindfulness meditation is completely secular with no affinity or leaning to any particular faith or religion. Our courses and teaching are based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mark Williams and others who have developed the use of mindfulness meditation in everyday life.