A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Researchers in mind wandering believe that we spend an average of half our waking hours daydreaming. If taken together with sleep, it means we are not present or in a dream for 2/3rds of our day. Although this can have benefits, such as dreaming of a holiday or pleasant memory, unfortunately the majority of our mind wanderings are negative- worrying about a future event, or ruminating about something that happened and wishing to put it right. We tend to have repetitive, “sticky” thoughts, going over the same old scenarios – money worries, relationship worries, time and time again.
Mindfulness offers mind training that brings us into the present moment. Through practising meditation we can recognise when we have wandered into a dreamlike state and gently bring ourselves back using a “support” such as our breathing. Like everything, the more we practise, the better we get at it. Through observation of our internal experience – thoughts, emotions and feelings in the body, we can become open, curious and accepting of these experiences, even ingrained, uncomfortable ones. Why do this?. As Buddhist commentator John Aske says “What is suppressed is expressed. If you push it out of sight in one place, it just pops up somewhere else in another guise”.
Mindfulness is now producing a vast amount of research, having very few studies available even just 10 years ago. It is proven to help many psychological and pain conditions, but there are many benefits above and beyond this.
Mindfulness is becoming embedded in the Western culture as it is in the East, due to its many benefits. Benefits have been shown even after just a few weeks of practise and long term meditators have been shown to have positive fMRI changes in their brain function.
Graham has received his teacher training through The Mindfulness Association (https://www.mindfulnessassociation.net/). He has a PG Dip Mindfulness from the University Of Aberdeen.
Graham teaches the Mindfulness Based Living Course (MBLC), which is an 8 week programme developed by the Mindfulness Association, a well respected and recognised provider of quality training in the UK. The MBLC can be taught one on one, but is usually taught in small groups of 8-12 people. An app and MP3's are provided for people taking the programme, so that they can practise at home, an important part of the programme.
Graham has also developed a unique 10 week programme called the Mindful Awareness Programme (M.A.P). This has been developed for chronic physical and emotional pain and suffering. The programme is based in mindfulness, although the M.A.P places more emphasis on interpreting and understanding feelings in our bodies. However many other tools are used, such as exercise (mindful movement, resistance band work and stretching/yoga routines), positive psychology, visualisation/guided imagery exercises, education, and sleep hygiene.
The first week involves a one on one “biopsychosocial” interview, lasting 90 minutes, where we find out about each other and questions about the programme can be answered. In this time an emailed video exercise programme will be sent that is specific to each persons abilities. The subsequent 9 weeks involves a 2 and a half hour classroom session, home practise and MP3’s and an app that are specific to each part of the course.
Commitment to home practise is a really important part of the programme as results will probably reflect how much time you take to practise.
Areas that would be suitable to potentially benefit from this therapeutic approach are:
Chronic back pain, Whiplash, Fibromyalgia, Migraine/Headache, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS),Anxiety, Low mood/Depression, Eating disorders, Fatigue and Alexithymia.
"Whether you have chronic pain or are going through a painful time, mindfulness can help."
"What is suppressed is expressed."
Mindfulness: paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them...
The Mindful Awareness Programme
People often ask whether mindfulness is just another passing novelty. The evidence is clearly against this as it is now becoming introduced into education, to help combat the rise in stress and anxiety in school children.
It is being bought into the pain treatment field, and becoming a common first line treatment for depression, which accounts for the two biggest health burdens in society.
Mindfulness has even been introduced to the Houses Of Parliament. It can also be of great benefit to people without any of the aforementioned difficulties, as mindfulness offers an often profound, life changing opportunity for everyone to change and enrich their daily lives.
The Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG) was set up in 2014 with the stated purpose:
To review research evidence, current best practice, extent and success of implementation, and potential developments in the application of mindfulness within a range of policy areas, and to develop policy recommendations for government based on these findings.