Is Britain becoming a mindful nation?

Published: Sunday 25th January 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (1)

Sometimes taking just a few minutes to slow down, shut your eyes, connect with your breaths and centre your thoughts can work wonders for battling stress.

The short meditation can calm things down, lower the blood pressure and help make the daily commute or bulging to-do list just a little bit less overwhelming.

Such mindfulness meditation is all the rage and has been used by many to help cope with everything from daily stress and anxiety to depression and chronic pain.

But the technique can be used by people from all walks of life in any surroundings, as Rebecca Crane, of the Centre for Mindfulness at Bangor University, demonstrated during a session for MPs and journalists in a room off Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament.

The session was being staged to mark the launch of the Mindful Nation UK interim report, which aims to get those in power to recognise the importance of wellbeing in society.

Former Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell says: “The way I see it, it should be about enhancing the wellbeing of the nation.

“It would be great if all the political parties could say in their manifesto what it is they think government is for, what it is they’re trying to achieve.

“It’s not just about government, but they do play a part – and if we could just get it out there that it’s to try and improve the wellbeing of the nation, as opposed to just maximise GDP.”

He believes although a healthy nation and a healthy GDP can go hand in hand it will require a change in approach to achieve it.

He says: “One of the things we need to think about is how this works long-term, not just short-term, which is what governments tend to think about, and that is pays to focus on prevention rather than cure. Nearly all these interventions require spending by one department, and will see gains elsewhere, and that’s the bit we need to crack.”

He points out that while promoting mindfulness in schools might not have a significant or immediate impact on exam results it could well bring harmony to classrooms up and down the country, help tackle behavioural problems, reduce stress and sickness rates among teachers and boost self-esteem among staff and students.

And he says those benefits will have a positive, long-term knock-on effect on everything from academic achievement to the strain put on the nation’s welfare budget and NHS.

The Mental Health Foundation has been championing mindfulness for the last five years and chief executive Jenny Edwards wants its benefits to reach those who need it the most.

She says: “It’s great that mindfulness is spreading, and people are bringing it into education and the health service and workplaces and so on, but it’s not going to spread through those routes to the places where mental ill health is worst.”

She says even when people are facing up to some of the toughest challenges life throws at them mindfulness can help put things on a manageable level.

She adds: “A lot of us will have had those experiences where something very hurtful has happened to us, and we may get stuck with those thoughts being in our mind a long time, and our emotions, and if we can recognise that they’re thoughts, and we create them and we are able to change them, and that changes our mood, then what a lot of stress that will save us? It doesn’t take away the cause, of course, but does make it a lot easier to handle.”

Copyright Press Association 2015

Published: Sunday 25th January 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (1)
  • Lynne Emmerson

    Mindful meditation is enabling me to deal with considerable pain as I await an operation. It also helps me stay connected to nature and contributes to an on going feeling of serenity and peace with the world.

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