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What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment purposefully and non-judgmentally. It is about having self-awareness and compassionate acceptance of all the experiences, including thinking, feeling and body sensation, one will have in the present moment

Although the philosophy and techniques of mindfulness originate in Buddhism, its essence is about the wisdom of living. It involves a systematic process of training to increase self-awareness and understanding. After decades of academic research and clinical development, mindfulness training is now an important area of scientific study, psychotherapy and health enhancement.

Stress Reduction

Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn is the pioneer to apply mindfulness in medical setting for helping chronic pain patients to cope with pain symptoms. In 1979, he established the Centre for Mindfulness of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and developed the programme of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) aiming to help the chronically ill patients to cope with their pain and related symptoms

MBSR is a psychoeducational experiential learning programme based on mindfulness as its foundation. It is an eight-week programme with three-hour weekly group meeting and a day of retreat. Through a series of mindful practices such as breathing, walking and yoga, the participants learn together with facilitation by MBSR teachers. All the participants are invited to share in the group on what they have experienced. Self-awareness of our thinking, feeling and body sensation can be enhanced throughout the course as well as from self-practice at home every day.

Cognitive Therapy

In 1992, using MBSR programme as the foundation, Professor Zindel Segal, John Teasdale and Mark Williams in Britain developed the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)external link to treat patients with depression. In 2000, they published the first MBCT trial which indicated significant post-trial reduction of risk of relapse in depression

Basically, MBCT is similar to MBSR in format. Yet, MBCT focuses specifically on depressive mood and negative cognition. Participants learn to purposefully bring their awareness to the habitual thinking pattern, emotional responses and behavioral reactions with a non-judgmental, curious, and compassionate acceptance. MBSR and MBCT were both being employed to treat anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder and patients with other psychological distress. The result indicated both modes led to significant reduction of anxiety symptoms, enhanced psychological wellbeing and improved stress coping. Besides, MBSR and MBCT have been applied to other clinical patients such as those with heart disease, gastrointestinal illness, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia. They have also been used to help the general population to cope with stress arising from family, work and interpersonal relationship


Mindfulness can be described as being completely awake and present, fully and deliberately alive, moment by moment to what is happening within us and around us. Mindfulness meditation helps us to wake up and stop living in automatic pilot mode. It frees us from the compulsive, re-active patterns of our minds, and allows us to stay calm and make sane choices. To be mindful is to live simply and directly with what is