Mindfulness is . . .
. . . training in concentration and self-awareness that has been shown to support top performance and good mental health. Mindfulness is a form of mental training that develops sustained attention.
Mindfulness isn’t a new concept, although it’s rapidly gaining popularity in the West, especially in the field of psychology. Mindfulness is now part of both traditional psychology, which aims to help alleviate conditions such as depression or anxiety, and modern positive psychology, which advocates scientifically sounds ways to raise levels of long-term resilience, wellbeing and satisfaction.
Mindfulness isn’t inherently Eastern, just as electricity isn’t inherently Western. Mindfulness is a quality of presence that’s innate in all human beings. Awareness is a natural and beautiful quality of being human that can’t be limited to one particular tradition or country.
Mindfulness training involves cultivating the capacity to attend to whatever is happening in ways that are purposeful and well balanced. It is the ability to be in the present moment, not being chased by our past or worried by our future so that we cannot concentrate on the present.
Mindfulness is about living in the present moment and releasing the mind from the habitual ruminative patterns that lead to worry, depression and burn-out and it enables more intuitive and creative responses to new challenges. Given the centrality of attention in all mental functioning, such training has significant implications for mental and physical health, for self-regulation and for education.
Mindfulness can bring about excellence—not just in education, but in sport. It is used across the world, for example, by the best sports teams in the Olympics, in basketball, swimming and diving. It is used by the most creative industries the world has ever known, Google and Apple, which provide mindfulness training for their top creatives in America.
Educational attainment comes down to attention and focus. If people can pay attention and focus, they can learn. Mindfulness could provide the practical instructions for bringing about that excellence in education.
For an overview of what mindfulness is:
The University of California, Berkeley MOOC on-line course The Science of Happiness explores the roots of a happy, meaningful life. Module six on Mindfulness has an excellent research focus. http://goo.gl/uciTOs
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