Why Mindfulness?

“Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in a particular way, moment by moment, without judging”
Jon Kabat-Zinn – Full Catastrophe Living

Mindfulness trains us to bring our minds back to the present moment instead of dwelling on the past or future. By paying attention to the present moment, discerning our experiences of ourselves and the world, we become aware of thoughts, emotions and feelings. “To what end?”, you may well ask…

This language of the body can be overwhelming especially when it relates to pressures, anxieties and worries. Sometimes we find ourselves wishing that things could be different to how they are. Mindfulness enables us to meet ourselves with compassion and friendliness. Learning to be aware of these ‘weather patterns’ and of what else is here, we often find an inner strength and resourcefulness that helps us make better, wiser decisions. This has a positive impact on our health, our well-being and on our relationships with ourselves and others.

Recent up-to-date research shows the ability to change our brains and our minds. Neuroscience demonstrates many positive effects of training the mind.

Benefits include increased compassion, generosity and patience, improved self-regulation, productivity, focus and clarity as well as an overall reduction in stress. But there are many things that neuro-science doesn’t yet show, such as improved relationships and perspective. These qualities become apparent through self-reflection and self-reported measures. All of this hinges on regular, sustained practice.

Mindfulness is practical.

What do mindfulness practices include?

Formal practices train the mind and the heart to open to experiences cultivating both narrow focused attention as well as the spaciousness of wide-angled awareness. We learn to expand our vision, to change our minds and to take care of ourselves. We come off auto-pilot, learning to respond rather than react. We also come to apply attitudes that foster well-being and creativity, finding our talents and unique contributions.

Informal practices support us throughout the day in cultivating awareness. We learn to unlearn old habits and patterns that no longer serve us or anyone else. We also learn strategies both for being with discomfort as well as changing behaviour.

Why are we offering mindfulness training to all professionals and with special appeal to yoga practitioners?

Yoga, like mindfulness, is concerned with relationship: how we connect with and appraise ourselves, each other, events, all living beings, and the world at large.

Alongside body and breath training, yoga cultivates compassion and care for the well-being of all. It incorporates ethical values and meditation (underlining single-pointed as well as spacious awareness). It emphasises ‘doing no harm’, transformation and flowing with the constant rhythm of change with care and kindness. Mindfulness also emphasises ‘bottom-up’ training which suggests that we can attain greater ease in our lives through the doorway of working kindly with the body.

Grounded in working with the whole person, yoga practitioners are well positioned to serve the mindfulness requirements of the modern world.

Furthermore, mindfulness training super charges yoga training. It supports yoga teachers in their own inner work and transformation. It also offers a vaster reach to more people outside of the yoga community bringing skills and practices that can serve and support them in practical ways.

Why are we offering mindfulness training to civic organisations, and to community and youth workers?

Moving forward, CMI is developing training that targets community and youth workers working towards social justice. Recognising the trajectory of mindfulness in the West, we are keen to bring mindfulness teacher training to communities that ordinarily don’t have access to this training due to cost, academic experience, language, location or situation. In addition, we wish to understand how traditional knowledges may influence the mindfulness landscape and how the training may become sympathetic to context.

Furthermore, we see mindfulness as a process that promotes agency and empowerment to advance transformation to serve the underserved sectors of our societies and our world.
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