More about Mindfulness

Mindfulness counters anxiety by speaking directly to body and emotions. It could as well be called ‘heartfulness’. Becoming aware through every aspect of your being– body, feelings, thoughts and meaning – you grow more centred and grounded, able to approach life with renewed positivity and vigour.

Secular mindfulness took root from the 1980s and is now a flourishing tradition in its own right, with centres of excellence, research and practice across the world, including Cambridge University, where I continue to teach.

Mindfulness brings a feeling of connection: a deep and satisfying sense of Being. At root, mindfulness means to recollect.* Gathering together your scattered thoughts and feelings, you (literally) ‘re-collect’ yourself. This does not just mean your thoughts, but also includes emotions and feelings, hence, mind-fulness is also ‘heart-fulness’.

Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism, whose early texts first describe the rich benefits of mindful practices and meditations. Of course, you do not need to be religious to practice, although you can bring in your own spirituality if you wish. I describe myself as ‘gently Buddhist’, attracted by its particular paths to wisdom and compassion. After all, it was Buddhists who first taught me to meditate as a student back in the early 1980s, and I have meditated daily since. Still, it it took me years to understand how to meditate in ways that worked for me. Now, I firmly believe we need to find the right approach for us, individually. Bringing mindful meditation into my work, I  weave in different mindful approaches that have helped me over the years. More recently, I have studied a science-based understanding of our nervous system, through trauma-informed therapy.

There are many sorts of mindfulness, and I encourage you to explore for yourself. One approach which inspires me is known as Recollective Awareness, devised by meditation teacher and author, Jason Siff. I find Jason’s approach superb for busy, over-stretched people, as it addresses the difficulty of meditating when you are stressed, ambushed by thoughts, or struggling to fit it in. This brings a fluidity and ease that encourages you to practice, and allows for a rich and beneficial experience of meditation.

* The original word for ‘mindfulness’ is smṛti, from the Sanskrit verb √smṛ: to ‘recollect’


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