Where does mindfulness come from?
- adult learning theory
- stress physiology
- cognitive science
- group process
- wisdom traditions as secular practices
How come it's so popular?
Well, the 'What is Mindfulness' page helps to answer this. Essentially Jon Kabat Zinn (now an Emeritus Professor of Medicine) developed it from the origins mentioned in the previous column. The first trials were successful and there have subsequently been tens of thousands of research studies including Randomised Control Trials and Cochrane reviews (i.e. the highest standards in contemporary research). Perhaps most importantly, as more people practice it for themselves, word spreads.
Can you give more details on the research base?
Tests, trials and extensive neuro-imaging repeatedly demonstrate how regular mindfulness practice enhances the brain's and body's ability to regulate itself in relation to physical health and emotional wellbeing. This leads to measurable changes in the amount of antibodies available in the body's immune system which help to protect against and counter disease. In addition the physical structure of the brain changes in ways which can even be measured with a ruler on a scan as the cortical thickness of neural pathways evolves. The enhancement of various cognitive functions is also easily illustrated with before and after neuroimages which show various parts of the brain 'lighting up' more as a reflection of how they are being enhanced. Further scans illustrate how these enhancements can continue to be actively present, even when people are not formally practicing mindfulness!
what happens in a class or on a course?
The courses provided by Mindful Edinburgh, draw from the origins mentioned above and involve their application (eg cognitive science) in the details of the practices. Guidance is offered, however this guidance includes repeated reassurances to only adopt (or adapt) the guidance if it feels right for you. There is no judgement about whether you do or don't follow the guidance.
For more information do scroll to the end of the course information page by clicking here
What's the role of the teacher/facilitator?
Well, sometimes there is teaching, and other times it could be said that the role is simply about facilitation of learning. We could go further and say that actually, when we are practicing together the role is that of co-creating. If the teacher is being fully present with people and the environment, then ultimately what arises in that moment together becomes the practice. After all, mindfulness is said to be about noticing what happens in the present moment.
For more information about Mindful Edinburgh teaching and facilitation you can click here
is it religious?
No. Mindful Edinburgh offers mindfulness training which is free of any religious contexts. The origins of mindfulness as mentioned above are drawn upon, and the techniques offered are grounded in science, 'art' and ethics. Religious terms or references are neither used nor made during sessions with Mindful Edinburgh. This makes the courses suitable for people of all religions or none, and everyone is welcome!
For a discussion of the differences between mindfulness and meditation just click here