What is mindful psychology and how does it work?
Mindfulness is the “awareness that comes from paying attention, on purpose, non judgmentally in the present moment” Jon Kabat-Zinn 2014.
Much of our suffering comes from our unconscious identification with our thoughts and the associated feelings that arise in response to these mental patterns.
Our minds are “thought generating machines” and the vast majority of our thoughts are not very helpful. Try observing your own thinking mind for a day or two… Notice how many negative, judgmental, self-critical or futile thoughts your mind thinks and how often it is in the past or future. Notice how much worrying and stressing your mind does. The mind—often lost in past or future stories frequently weighed down with some level of disquiet—is commenting, interpreting and labelling everything.
When we get hooked by these thoughts, we lose contact with the present moment.
Why does that matter?
Because the present moment is where ALL our power to create fulfilment, joy and happiness occurs.
Instead, we humans tend to look into the past or future when emotional distress arises.
Our ability to bring more peace and wellbeing into our lives however, is reliant on directly working with our internal experiences — our thoughts, feelings and behaviour in the present. Cultivating this ability to observe without judgement, can help us to respond to our experiences with greater clarity and focus, rather than reacting from old patterns which tend to be much less helpful.
When we are able to notice the internal disturbance, pause and anchor in the breath or the body, we take a radical step forward. Such a choice makes room for compassionately allowing our emotional discomfort while observing our thoughts as passing mental events rather than reality itself. This ability to pause – to observe the conflict between our conditioned mindset and the unfolding world in the present moment; to let go of thinking and be in our hearts – is the entry point for improved mental health and psychological freedom.
Cultivating this ability to observe without reactivity provides some space and capacity to notice our experience and pay attention to the big picture of what we are creating in life and whether this is in line with our values.
This valuable information supports our ability to choose what is most nourishing for ourselves not only in everyday moments but also with big decisions.