Over the last few months, since I've been telling people about my experience of mindfulness, I have been asked the same few questions by lots of people. So I thought I would use this blog to try and answer some of them here.
2. Isn't mindfulness about clearing your mind, so that it becomes empty of thoughts?
If you've ever tried to empty your mind, then you will know that it really is impossible to do. Recently I was lucky enough to hear Ruby Wax talking about mindfulness and she said that having an empty mind would be your first clue that you were dead! Your mind is always thinking, that's it's job and no amount of striving for an empty mind will change that, in fact it will probably have the opposite effect. Rather than having a blank mind, mindfulness is about noticing your thoughts, accepting them for what they are, just passing thoughts, not facts and then letting them pass by like clouds across the sky.
3. How does mindfulness help?
The best way to answer this question is to share my personal experiences of how mindfulness has helped me. I have been practicing (almost) daily for about three years now and the word that best describes the benefit for me is resilience. I have noticed that I am less affected by the ups and downs of life, that I don't allow my emotions to take over when things don't work out the way I want them to. I am often able to make a choice about how to respond to situations instead of simply reacting to them, being led by my emotions. Of course, I still have my moments when I forget all of that! But those moments are far fewer now than before I had a regular mindfulness practice. In addition to my personal experience, a quick trawl of Google shows that there has been a huge amount of scientific research conducted into the benefits of mindfulness that proves how it can help people.
4. Isn't mindfulness just for hippies?
Mindfulness is completely secular and is practiced by people in all walks of life, in businesses, by individuals and as a therapy in the NHS. All kinds of people are practicing and benefiting from mindfulness every day.
Jo is a director of Mindful Future and an accredited Breathworks Mindfulness Teacher. Breathworks is one of the leading Mindfulness organisations in the UK