30th May 2014

So what is this thing called Mindfulness?


It’s been a very odd year in the sense that something I’ve been exploring for a decade or so appears to have suddenly hit the wider public consciousness. I suspect that a few years back if I’d shared my conviction that sitting and observing my breath was nourishing to my soul many people would have viewed me as slightly odd. Now they are more likely to ask, and indeed many have asked, ‘So what is this thing called Mindfulness?’

At this point I hesitate to give an answer…..hopefully not a ‘cop out’, but more an acknowledgement that I’m still getting my head around it and many people more learned than me have grappled with this very question. What I offer here, in the spirit of my blog, are a few of the shiny pebbles that I’ve come across whilst beach combing so to speak.

A good starting point is to share a clip from BBC Breakfast in 2012. Here the intrepid reporter files a ‘before’ and ‘after’ report which provides a fascinating insight into the practice of Mindfulness . The 8 week Mindfulness based course featured In the clips is the type of secular course that I am currently undertaking at Bangor University’s Centre for Mindful Research and Practice. This non-religious approach to Mindfulness appears to be gaining in media profile, as illustrated by various Guardian articles this year.

The irony of the increasing interest in the media is that Mindfulness as a practice has been around for literally thousands of years. The buddhist traditions that i’ve explored have all used breath awareness as a simple yet fundamental touchstone. For me personally the approach provided by Thich Nhat Hanh has struck a real cord over the past few years. For anyone who is keen keen to consider the relationship between the secular and the religious aspects of Mindfulness, last week’s (26/05/2014) Radio 4 episode of Beyond Belief might well be worth a listen.

I suppose there is only one thing to add before we lose ourselves in theorising………find a comfortable quiet place to sit, be aware of breathing in and out and reflect upon how the present moment is the perfect moment.

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