How the cup holds the tea.
– Pat Schneider
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness originates from traditional wisdom. It is not easy to capture the full meaning given its multifacetedness, richness and depth in nature. According to Mark Williams, University of Oxford (UK), the term mindfulness means appreciative, lucid, and inherently ethical awareness, a sense of knowing what is happening inside and around us at the moment it is happening.
Perhaps, the most quoted definition in mainstream is:
‘mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.’- Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness is sometimes seen as of a form of mental training, but it goes way beyond that. As shared by Christina Feldman: ‘The quality of mindfulness is not neutral or blank presence. True mindfulness is imbued with warmth, compassion, and interest.’ This can be experienced through the whole-hearted embodiment of mindfulness practice in ordinary life.
We can choose to see mindfulness from different angles. It can be an innate human capacity that we all have, a skill that we can intentionally cultivate, or a process of deliberate ‘being with.’ In a deeper sense, mindfulness is a way of being in life. It is life. An authentic and full life made possible by waking up to and becoming aware of the abundance to be found in simplicity and the ordinary within and around us.
It is now increasingly evidenced that practicing mindfulness supports improving regulation of emotion and attention, cooling the fire of reactivity, supporting general wellbeing, and cultivating resilience.
What is Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program?
MBCT can be seen as a ‘creative fusion’ where ‘ancient wisdom meets modern psychology’. Its design blends the contemplative practices from traditional wisdom with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) from modern psychology. Defined as a mindfulness – based program, MBCT is an 8-week skills-group training in clinical settings, originally for preventing relapse of depression. It was co-developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale and based on the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
Empirical studies and meta analysises consistently suggest that mindfulness-based programs promote mental health and general wellbeing. A range of randomised controlled trials prove that MBCT significantly reduces the risk of depression relapse by 50% and is proven as effective as anti-depressants in preventing new episodes of depression (Kuyken et al., 2016). MBCT has been officially recommended as the treatment for depression recurrence by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE 2009).
Source: adapted from ‘Essential Resources for Mindfulness Teacher, 2021’
What is Mindfulness for Life?
Mindfulness for Life, sometimes referred as Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Life (MBCT_L) is an adaptation from MBCT in the light of research at Oxford University and other worldly renowned research centres. It is a largely experiential and skill- based, and in-depth program intended to cultivate more sustainable change.
The distinction of this course within the MBCT family lies at its inclusive design making the foundational skills of mindfulness applicable in daily life and widely accessible to general population such as in schools, workplaces, and other community contexts, rather than just for clinical settings. This includes people across the spectrum of mental health and wellbeing and from different walks of life, especially the less privileged and the vulnerable.