Fiona Worthington Clinical Hypnotherapist and Cognitive Behavioural Coach at the Putney Clinic provides a simple overview of the term “mindfulness” and explains what it means to her.
Mindfulness is described by founding godfather Jon Kabat Zinn
“paying attention, on purpose, from moment to moment, with non-judging awareness”
I find that this can be a bit of a mouthful as a first introduction to the subject. No disrespect to JKZ. (I am a huge fan) but I think it’s a good idea to have lots of ways to explain it as we are all so different. The more I think about it, the more it helps my own understanding. It is a bit of a WIP (work in progress) for me.
Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”
So here we go. This is my take, on what Mindfulness is thanks to the philosophy of that wonderful bear Winnie the Pooh. Ewan McGregor starred as Christopher Robin (CR) in the recent film which I was delighted to find was on the TV this past Christmas. So, I and my Nick and our two girls curled up and watched it together. It is now firmly on my list of favourite films to watch when I am feeling rubbish and need a large dose of cheering up.
Christopher Robin has become a hardworking grownup with a lovely wife and daughter. But all he can think about is work, work, work. He has lost sight of what really matters and has forgotten how fun life can be. Cue Pooh Bear to remind him. There are lots of wonderful scenes in the film.
This one stuck in my mind. After meeting Pooh unexpectedly in a London garden near his home Christopher Robin decides that he must return Pooh back to his friends Eeyore and Piglet in the 100-acre wood which is next to CR’s family’s country cottage. To get there they have to take a train. Sitting in the compartment together CR is working and finding Pooh rather annoying. He asks him to “amuse himself.” Pooh does easily and looks purposely out of the train window taking in what he sees. He starts speaking “sheep… man…cloud…house…tree… house…dog…. grass.” CR interrupts and asks Pooh what he is doing? Pooh says he is playing a game called “say what you see”
His little game is a lovely example of a mindful moment. Pooh is noticing things that pass most of us by. We take for granted the view from the train, we barely notice it. Pooh though is not looking back or forward in time, he is seeing things in that exact moment as they are, he is not judging them, he is just noticing them and seeing them as he finds them.
Later in the film after Pooh and friends have worked their particular magic on him, CR returns to London once more on the train. This time he is not working, it is him taking a mindful moment looking out of the window playing the little game and rediscovering the simple things in life. This gentle awakening, this shift from autopilot to now, to how we see things can with a little practice gives us a wonderful sense of calm and enjoyment.
So, for me, my understanding of Mindfulness starts by recognising that there are two modes that we live in. The autopilot one which is so important and necessary in our lives. This is where we get things done, where we plot and plan, and there is nothing wrong with it. Then there is the “being mode” where we consciously step out of autopilot into the now. Mindfulness is the door that can help us get there. In this mode we are more aware, seeing things exactly as they are, not wanting to change, judge or solve but to accept things as we see them.
My favourite definition is “Accepting things just as they are not as you would like them to be.” Have a look at Pooh in this short clip.
Fiona Worthington – www.fionaworthington.uk.com