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Body Soul

Mindfulness is the experience of being ‘in the moment’. A practising Buddhist, Suzanne Minnett Lockwood explains to Nicole Tata how being mindful can help.

Everywhere you look, you see information on Mindfulness. It has become the focus of scientific studies, with proven benefits: relieving stress, anxiety, depression and many other mental issues. Equally, those interested in wellbeing, happiness and creativity have adopted it as a core technique.

Mindfulness has, at its roots, an ancient Buddhist practice of meditation. It has relevance for the lives of all people seeking to escape, for whatever motivation, from the fast-paced technological, materialistic world we live in.

Mindfulness meditation is a technique that allows you to observe yourself moment to moment, meeting the moment as it is and becoming ‘aware’. As you develop more awareness, it is not always the reality you expect. In fact, you can find that your habits of mind are undermining your happiness and contributing to your state of unhappiness. The good news is that meditation is about transformation, and with awareness you see that you have choices and can change.

In closing your eyes, far from escaping or shutting off from life, you can, in that moment, come right up to face yourself. What seems like a way of avoiding is, in fact, the opposite and can have the effect of making you feel more alive and expansive than ever before. It gives you a taste of freedom. With this awareness, you are able to be with the rawness of your life, and realise so much time is spent trying to pursue and cling on to desires and push away fears.

The mindfulness practice helps us to let go of this automatic habitual reaction, this cruise control set to cling to pleasure and avoid pain. This awareness that we don’t need to react helps us in our ability to deal with discomfort and difficult times that come our way. The mindfulness practice creates space in our busy lives.

It is always the space that makes sense of things: the white page between words, the silence between sounds, and so it is with allowing and training your mind to be still. From this stillness will come a creativity to take into your life.

Mindfulness may start by sitting quietly on a cushion, but it is a way of being that helps everywhere – in traffic jams, dealing with fractious kids or after a stressful day at the office. You can find out for yourself what having that space could do for you. Find a quiet spot, sit still, close your eyes for one minute and see how you feel.