What it is

We all know these moments, that we are fully immersed in the moment, such as when beholding a breath-taking sunset, listening to beautiful music, or having any other kind of intense experience. The mind goes quiet and we are all attention, as we taste the richness of the moment.

The present moment experience

To be mindful is to be fully aware of the present experience. It is all about awareness and living in the present moment. This suggests a kind of openness. Mindfulness is focused primarily on attention, being aware, but not in the way that we normally associate with ‘paying attention’ and ‘concentration,’ where you focus on one specific thing.

Increased intensity and awareness

Mindfulness is the art of being in the moment, in the here and now. Training mindfulness is a pathway to creating more intensity and awareness in life. The greater your ability to direct your attention, the better you will get at distancing yourself from distracting thoughts that keep recirculating in your head. You will find it easier to concentrate, easier to relax. Your mind will settle down.

By practising mindfulness, you will learn to make conscious choices instead of responding on autopilot. This will allow you to nip stress triggers in the bud and change how you deal with unhelpful thought patterns. It will create a higher state of awareness and better enable you to guard your boundaries.

Why practise it?

I am overwhelmed by the depth of the word 'mildness'. Whenever an old pattern pops up, I think: "there it is again" and smile Karin

Numerous studies have shown that mindfulness increases quality of life and that it brings about positive change in our cognitive and neurobiological dynamics. Mindfulness also transforms the way in which someone views themselves and the world, and how they respond to their surroundings. This kind of wide-ranging efficacy is what makes mindfulness such a valuable practice for so many people.

Some of the main effects of mindfulness training are:


  • greater awareness of and insight into your thought patterns, responses, actions, emotions, and moods (and an ability to choose to handle these differently when you need to)
  • the ability to step back from your problems
  • life becomes easier and you experience things more consciously and intensely
  • (energy-)resources become more readily available

Aside from that, mindfulness training often also produces the following effects:

Better ability to:

  • deal with stressful events or times when things aren’t going the way you want them to go
  • concentrate (more focus and less fretting)
  • set boundaries (greater awareness)

A reduction in:

  • stress symptoms (such as high blood pressure, tiredness, sleeplessness)
  • sleep problems and general fatigue
  • depression and anxiety
  • (chronic) pain
  • mental fallout of serious illness and setbacks

About MBSR and MBCT

The foundations of mindfulness training were laid by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Working at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, he noticed that chronically ill patients, for whom no further medical options were available, were often left to their own devices. They would be told that they just had to ‘learn to live with’ their pain and their symptoms, although nobody could tell them how.

MBSR

Kabat-Zinn is a molecular biologist by trade and has ample experience in meditation and yoga. Using knowledge from these three domains, he developed a programme to empower patients to take their health into their own hands and change their experience of it. His approach revolves around the idea of developing the quality of attention.
He called this programme Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Over the years, MBSR has proven its worth as the most complete mindfulness training programme for everyone, not only for patients.

MBCT


Later, a cognitive psychologist called Zindel Segal teamed up with Mark Williams and John Teasdale to develop a variation on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction that included elements of cognitive behavioural therapy: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). This form of mindfulness training is intended for people with a history of depression, helping them prevent a relapse by giving them mindfulness as a tool to manage their condition. Certain elements of this programme are focused specifically on depression. Apart from that, MBCT only differs from MBSR on a very small number of elements.

The Dutch situation

In the Netherlands, we generally use the overarching concept of ‘mindfulness training’ for both forms of mindfulness-based courses. Appreciating MBCT to contain several elements that are highly valuable for the general public, most Dutch mindfulness teachers offer MBSR with several MBCT elements added in.

How to train it

Mindfulness is a skill you can practise and hone. And that is where mindfulness training comes in. The American architect of mindfulness training, Jon Kabat-Zinn, harnessed Western psychological insights into an eight-week mindfulness programme that has been around for 40 years now, and which has proven to be effective, as shown by numerous scientific studies.

Who it is for

Mindfulness training is suited for anyone who is ready to invest in the quality of their life, who aspires to live and experience life more intensely, who wants to enjoy more, and more intensely, and who is willing to ready to consider a different stance regarding their thought and behavioural patterns. And it is for anyone who wants to learn to take a different approach to stressful ‘weather conditions’ in their life.
Any adult, regardless of age, regardless of physical ability, with or without health issues, is welcome and can take reap the benefits. In the words of the architect of mindfulness training, Jon Kabat-Zinn: ‘I have never met anyone who would not benefit from mindfulness in his life.’

I took the training hoping I would learn to change myself. Instead, I learned to accept myself. That’s something entirely different… and a much greater change.
Christina

And you will in particular benefit if you:


  • often feel you are not in control of your life, as if your life is run by your diary.
  • want to better cope with your busy life.
  • desire for more moments of enjoyment, rest, and reflection/silence.
  • want to worry less.
  • are physically affected by tension or stress.
  • would like to deal better with difficult emotions.
  • want to regenerate your energy faster.

Interested in taking mindfulness training? Check the schedule of start dates