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What is Mindfulness?
Professors around the world have proved that mindfulness is used as a tool to cope with anxiety and stress. Mindfulness can help students stay focused on a task, increase concentration and can be used as a stress reduction. According to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, ‘mindfulness is awareness that arises by paying attention on purpose in the present moment and non-judgmental’. Mindful Schools suggest that mindfulness ‘brings awareness to one’s experience, it can be applied to our senses, thoughts and emotions by using sustained attention’. Mindfulness is about being in the now, every experience, thought process and emotions in the present moment. Mindfulness is not about being calm, rather it helps you be aware of your emotions, which may make you feel calmer. Mindfulness is not about absence of thought, about discipline nor is it religious. Its about being aware of your thoughts, feelings and how we can make better choices and how we can recognise the reactions towards those thoughts and feelings.
History and Research
There is over 35 years research in this field of mindfulness. Professor Jon Kabat Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the late 1970’s started a program known as the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). His research shows that mindfulness has a positive effect on chronic pain, stress and overall wellbeing. In the past 10 years neuro scientists have proven that MBSR helps the gray matter concentration in the brain regions involved in learning, memory processes, emotional regulation, self referential processing and perspective taking. In the early 1990’s Dr. Mark Williams, Dr. John Teasdale and Dr. Zindel Seagal developed a mindfulness program for mental health called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which is proven to help treat clinical depression. In the early 2000’s mindfulness in education was proven to help adolescents and students in deeper levels in attention, concentration and self regulation based on impulse control and emotion regulation. More research and findings are currently been researched with mindfulness in education.
There are Nine aspects of wellbeing that are developed through mindfulness practice, each of these practices are dependant of the integration and regulation of the prefrontal Cortex of the brain. Regular mindfulness practice effects these areas which are our bodily regulation, insight, attuned communication with others, empathy, emotional balance and regulation, fear modulation, response flexibility, intuition and morality. Therefore mindfulness practice such as focused attention, on visual, sounds, sensations, breathing, body relaxation and movement as well as open, spacious and unfocused awareness in thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, can create positive effects in our Prefrontal Cortex in our brain. http://mindbrain.ucdavis.edu