Mindfulness is a particular way of paying attention, being present and skillfully responding to events as they unfold. It can help us to better manage our thoughts, feelings and behaviours, giving us more choice about our decisions and relationships. It can be likened to doing physical exercise to support physical health: there’s increasing evidence that practicing mindfulness can support our mental health and wellbeing.

The term mindfulness is now used in many different ways and to mean many different approaches, which can cause confusion about what a mindfulness programme will involve. We teach an 8-week mindfulness course because of the strong research evidence supporting its effectiveness.

The 8-week mindfulness course format was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn within his stress reduction clinic (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction; MBSR). This was adapted by the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, focusing initially on people with repeated depression (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy; MBCT) in whom it has been shown to be as effective as anti-depressants at preventing relapse, and is now recommended by NICE. MBCT has subsequently evolved for use in a variety of non-clinical populations.

Mindfulness in the workplace

Mindfulness is increasingly being used in the workplace where emerging evidence suggests that it not only improves the mental health and wellbeing of individual staff members, but that it also contributes to positive leadership behaviours and can, therefore, when implemented across organisations, support changes to organisational culture.

The days when stress was often seen as a badge of honour are coming to an end as we better understand its detrimental effects on health and wellbeing. Studies suggest that 8-week mindfulness courses enable individuals to be more resilient, manage stress better, have better rational decision making and strategic thinking abilities, better focus and enhanced creativity.