What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a way of being which involves bringing awareness to the unfolding of present experience, moment to moment, with curiosity, openness and acceptance. It is not a set of techniques to be learned to escape unpleasant feelings, a relaxation exercise, or a goal to be reached, but rather an approach to life that can help us respond more skilfully even when challenging experiences do occur.

Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps us change the way we think and feel about our experiences, especially stressful experiences. It involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings so we become more aware of them, less enmeshed in them, and better able to manage them.

It is described as an, ‘awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment’ (Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2007). Although commonly associated with Buddhism, developments in psychology and neuroscience support mindfulness as being an inherent part of the human mind that can be developed and enhanced through secular meditative practice.

Practice rather than theory!

Until recently, mindfulness has been a relatively unfamiliar concept in much of our culture. Happily this is now changing with no shortage of mindfulness books and research readily available. Whilst such books can offer helpful guidance they are not a replacement for the actual practice of mindfulness.

Whilst we may experience impromptu moments of mindfulness, for example stopping to notice and appreciate a sunset, a formal practice offers us the opportunity to develop awareness more consciously, allowing us to live life more fully.

Mindfulness involves a process of becoming more aware and accepting towards all our experiences including the unpleasant ones. This takes on-going practice and commitment. It may seem counterintuitive at first, because it involves the idea of allowing and turning towards an unpleasant experience, rather than trying to get rid of or control it.

It is not a passive process but rather a kindhearted and intentional engagement of wakefulness. With sustained practice, it is possible to see the many ways we get hijacked by wishing things to be different from what is actually present.

Evidence for Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been the subject of growing attention and interest in recent years, thanks to a rapidly expanding evidence base. This demonstrates it can be helpful for many mental and physical health problems, such as stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, IBS, CFS/ME, fibromyalgia and depression, in addition to promoting general physical and emotional wellbeing (Mindfulness Research, 2011).

Inspiration, motivation, and a more comprehensive view through interaction with others

There is tremendous value in practicing in a group and receiving guidance from a qualified teacher. A class can provide inspiration, motivation, and a more comprehensive view through interaction with others. An MBSR teacher and the group can help you explore your experience of the exercises and take you to a deeper level of understanding. Although a book may be a great starting point, we encourage you to seek opportunities to learn MBSR in a class situation.

Linda Lehrhaupt and Petra Meibert, 2017

Upcoming mindfulness courses and events in York, Helmsley, Harrogate & North Yorkshire

Hull York Medical School
10th anniversary event

GP Introduction to Mindfulness

Leeds
27th March 2019
From 10:00 to 16:30
From £100
Emotional Fitness
10th anniversary event

Mindfulness for Emotional Fitness Workshop

York St John University
10th April 2019
14:00 to 16:00
From £10 (discount options available)
Mindfulness for change
8 week course

Mindfulness for Personal and Professional Change

University of York
30th April – 25th June 2019
15:00 to 17:00
From £210 to £260
Mindfulness in the Workplace, MBSR course
8 week course

Mindfulness for Stress (MBSR)

York Hospital
9th May – 27th June 2019
18:30 to 21:00
From £210 to £260

Leeds Moments of Mass Mindfulness (MoMM)

Leeds
11th May 2019
10:00 to 16:00
Practice Days
Practice day

Cultivating Kindness

Millfield Fitness Studio
12th May 2019
From 09:30 to 16:30
From £30 to £40 plus group discount
Hull and East Yorkshire Mind
10th anniversary event

Mindfulness for Mental Health and Wellbeing

HEY Mind, Hull
16th May 2019
From 09:30 to 12:30
From £10 (discount options available)
Practice Days
Practice day

Continued Practice Day

St Olave’s Church, York
29th June 2019
From 09:30 to 16:30
From £30 to £40 plus group discount
10th anniversary event

Mindfulness for Insight Workshop

Priory Street Centre, York
3rd July 2019
09:30 to 12:30
From £10 (discount options available)
St-Gemmas-University-Teaching-Hospice
10th anniversary event

Compassionate Care Workshop

St Gemma’s Hospice, Leeds
9th July 2019
From 13:30 to 16:30
From £10 (discount options available)
Water drop

Mindfulness: An Active Approach to Looking After Our Mind

Middlethorpe Hall, York
14th July 2019
9:30 to 16:30
£95
St-Gemmas-University-Teaching-Hospice
10th anniversary event

Compassionate Care Workshop

St Gemma’s Hospice, Leeds
25th September 2019
From 13:30 to 16:30
From £10 (discount options available)
10th anniversary event

Cultivating Mindful Organisations Workshop

County Hall, Beverley
5th December 2019