“…What progress, you ask, I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself…”
    Hecato, Greek philosopher (Patricia Demierre-Berberat, 2012)

What is mindfulness and where does it come from?

There is a lot of talk nowadays, in the general public and media, about “mindfulness”. However, it is actually not a new age phenomenon but “mindfulness” has been around for a very long time.

Mindfulness is an awareness that arises through paying attention in the present moment without judgment and on purpose. Mindfulness is about knowing what is on your mind, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the leading authority on the matter. It is a technic to feel more in control of your emotional world. You learn more to act instead of reacting.

Recently mindfulness has become more prominent, especially because more research has been done on the subject in recent years and it has been proven that mindfulness has positive effects on your mental balance and it has greatly benefited psychotherapy.

Do I have to be religious or spiritual to use mindfulness?

Mindfulness has its origins in the Buddhist teachings, but you do not have to be religious or spiritual to practice mindfulness. It is a tool that can help you to live your life in the present and find mental balance in stressful situations.

With regular training, you can increase more positive emotions and therefore help to decrease negative ones. Which in turn has a positive impact on reducing depressed or angry feelings. With breathing techniques and observing your thoughts, mindfulness has found a way to teach people to live more effectively in the present moment. This is especially important when you find it hard to cope and your self-esteem is at a low. Perhaps try to start with only one conscious inbreath and outbreath.

I myself went through a mindfulness training with Jon Kabat-Zinn. Furthermore, in a difficult time in my life, I experienced myself how beneficial and calming it can be to live your life in the present moment. It does require regular training, it is like going to the gym and training your body, only here you train your mind. Many successful people, like F1 world champion Nico Rosberg, actress Jennifer Aniston or singer/songwriter Paul McCartney who lead high stress lives have been utilising mindfulness in their daily lives.