Is practicing mindfulness also practicing Buddhism?
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism, but it has been secularized (i.e. removed of any religious teaching) when it was first developed in the late 1970s in the West (see the history here). Today, mindfulness is practiced in Schools, at the Workplace, in Prisons, and various other settings as a form of psycho-education to help people manage stress, improve resilience, and improve concentration etc. See the benefits here.
I do not have the time to try out mindfulness
The perception of time is at best, a perception. A 10 minute caught in a traffic jam can feel like hours, compared to a 2 hour comedy that feels like thirty minutes. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness actually frees up more time, as our minds wander 47% of the time instead of focusing on the task at hand; such mind-wandering has been linked to unhappiness. Mindfulness helps to bring back the focus of awareness to the present moment, helping us to concentrate better, manage our inner-criticisms more effectively. Instead of ‘wasting’ time, it helps one to regain the time ‘lost’ to mind wandering.
Formal mindfulness practices can range anything from 3 minute to 45 minutes, sometimes even just a breath; It can be done anywhere, anytime - on the bus, at the office chair, in the lift etc. Informal mindfulness practice involves just paying attention to our own thought, feelings and behaviors in our everyday activities, such as eating, communicating, brushing teeth. Hence, it really doesn't take up much time. It's the attitudes that matter.
Can I skip some of the sessions in the 8-week course?
The 8 week course of 2¼ to 2½ hours each are meant to provide an environment for the facilitator to instruct and guide you through the various types of mindfulness practices, psychological concepts and allow time for your own practice and contemplation to develop and unfold. Each session is built upon the earlier session; hence it is not advisable to skip any of the lessons. Should there be unforeseen circumstances preventing you from attending any of the sessions, the facilitator will guide you along to get you updated on the missed session.
Practicing mindfulness is akin to gym training. Sometimes we call it brain training. It takes discipline and regular practice to develop understanding and develop the ‘muscles’ in the brain to see the effects; certainly not something that happens overnight. Many people have attest to the benefits of mindfulness on their physiological and psychological well-being. See the benefits here.
Can everyone practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone. However, if you are undergoing some form of psychiatric treatments, it is advised that you enrol in the formal mindfulness course after at least 6 months of recovery.
It should be noted that not all mindfulness instructors are psychologists or psychotherapists, hence they will not be able to provide you with the specialised help you need.
Will mindfulness program solve all my problems?
Mindfulness is not intended to ‘solve’ problems; rather it changes our relationship with our ‘problems’. Mindfulness brings insights into how we relate to stress and to life, and allows us to see new choices for thought, outlook and action not previously available.