FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MINDFULNESS

  1. Q. What is Mindfulness?
    A. Mindfulness is a special practice in which we become aware of our experience in the present moment, with compassion, and an open-hearted curiosity. Through cultivating mindful-awareness, we discover how to live in the present moment rather than brooding about the past or worrying about the future.
  2. Q. Is there a difference between Meditation and Mindfulness?
    A. Meditation is the formal practice of mindfulness, it is when you consciously set aside a period of time to sit still and focus inwardly on the body, choosing to be present with an anchor such as the breath. Mindfulness is taking what you have learned in your formal practice of being present and using this in your daily activities such as eating, walking, driving, or even noticing your surroundings when you go for a walk. With practice it is possible to be mindful of just about everything we do, we can be mindful anywhere, anytime.
  3. Q. What are the benefits of mindfulness practice?
    A. New scientific research has shown that having a regular mindfulness practice actually changes the way our brains respond to difficult situations and so helps us deal more effectively with the stress in our lives. This in turn benefits our health and well-being, reducing anxiety, depression, pain, insomnia and mind chatter.
  4. Q. Where can I find out more about the scientific research?
    A. There are many research papers and articles on-line. Rick Hanson is an American neuroscientist who has published a well-respected book called ‘Buddha’s Brain’ in which he draws on the latest research to show that through the practice of mindfulness, you can use your mind to reshape your brain for greater happiness.
  5. Q. How long would it take before I feel any benefit?
    A. Scientific studies have shown that practicing mindfulness, for as little as 20 minutes a day, even for a few weeks can bring a variety of physical and mental benefits. The more time people give to regular practice, the greater the benefit they experience.
  6. Q. I don’t seem to be able to let go of my thoughts in meditation – what am I doing wrong?
    A. you are not doing anything wrong, stopping your thoughts is not really possible…When your mind wanders, which it inevitably will, simply acknowledge where your mind has gone and gently bring your awareness back to the breath again, just starting again. Gradually, the periods of calm will lengthen and the time it takes for you to realize that your mind has wandered will shorten.
  7. Q. I keep falling asleep during meditation – how can I stay awake?
    A. If you feel sleepy, sit up straighter, open your eyes a little, and take a few deep breaths, and then return to breathing normally.
  8. Q. How can I establish a daily meditation practice? I have tried but after a week or two I just seem to lapse back into not practicing.
    A. By coming to classes your teacher will be able to give you different tools and techniques to support your practice, enabling you to find a method that works for you. Build your practice up slowly. Maybe try small 10 minute practices at first. Try to get into a routine that works for you and suits your lifestyle.
  9. Q. Does mindfulness practice require you to be religious?
    A. No, mindfulness is not a religion, it can be practiced by anyone, religious or not.
  10. Q. What is the difference between personal and group meditation practice?
    A. For a personal meditation you decide the place, time and duration of the meditation. A group meditation practice will be on a set time/day/place. There is real power and benefit in a group practice, which includes guidance and support. The group practice can also provide inspiration for you to take back into your own personal practice.
  11. Q. Do I need any special clothing or equipment?
    A. No, just an upright chair or a meditation stool if you prefer. Loose comfy clothing is advisable, it is a good idea to wear layers as your body temperature can vary during meditation. You may want to bring some water with you.
  12. Q. Can mindfulness help me stop smoking/lose weight/stop drinking?
    A. Mindfulness will help you make better choices in your life. It helps with self-esteem, you grow more aware of your body and what is good for you. You will also be calmer and more relaxed, so you will not need the ‘quick fixes’ so much.
  13. Q. Can mindfulness cure insomnia?
    A. By learning to activate the relaxation response and calm your tension and stress, you will sleep much better.
  14. Q. Can you recommend some mindful-resources to help get me started?
    A. There are so many useful web sites available on line. On my Links page I have a recommended book list and some information, but a useful starting point maybe www.freemindfulness.org which has free downloadable meditations, information, apps and blogs.