The art of practical mindfulness

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

While it is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practise on a daily basis.
We spoke with Dr. Tara de Mel with regard to the concept of “mindfulness” and why we are talking about it now in Sri Lanka.

She said: “It is a relatively new concept here, but around the world, it has been in practice for well over two decades now,” adding that “it’s a mandatory inclusion in all walks of life, particularly in the education sector and among most government officials and political leaders”.

In Sri Lanka, the closest we come to in mindfulness practices is meditation, and Dr. Tara was adamant in clarifying that “mindfulness is a non-sectarian and non-religious practice. It is set apart from classic mediation which often has a singular focus of either achieving nibbana or other goal; mindfulness, however, is a secular lifestyle practice”.

As we become more aware of our thoughts and emotions in the moment they arise, we begin to create the freedom to choose how we respond to difficulty, instead of being driven mindlessly by our conditioning and habits.

Over time, this releases us from stress, from our past, and from the static thinking that inhibits the natural flow of creativity, happiness and gratitude in life.

It is a practice that is best observed and learned under the guidance of an experienced professional and there’s growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodelling the physical structure of your brain.

Sri Lanka Foundation

Sri Lanka Foundation (SLF) is launching a pioneering course on mindfulness in January, 2019 – “SMART Mind Transformation”, which will lay a strong foundation on the practice of the techniques of mindfulness and its relationship to modern scientific theory.

This four-month long certificate course will be conducted by Mindfulness Coach Aruna Manathunge, who has over 45 years of practice in mindfulness.

Speaking about the course and its primary objective, Aruna Manathunge said: “Mindfulness has to be trained, and so this course will be an interactive session, and that is why it is called ‘practical mindfulness’, where we will learn to integrate this learned skill into our daily lives.”

He further added that your “default mode” is when you are going about your daily life, but we naturally practise mindfulness when we are engaged in things we truly enjoy, and the trick here is to incorporate that to the default mode.
The course will empower the participants to have a more fulfilling life. It will also be an added qualification to be a counselling professional.

Manathunge also mentioned that the batch will be no more than 25 participants, and each session will carry a dedicated time slot to focus on the practice of mindfulness towards a certain difficult area in one’s life, and at the end of the course period, they will be able to experience real results.

The four-month long Certificate Course of Practical Mindfulness™ will cover important new areas such as the problems of un-mindfulness, what is mindfulness, research on mindfulness, techniques for developing mindfulness, mindful stress reduction, managing emotions, cultivating self-compassion and emotional health, improving work and study performance, mindfulness in memory, mindful communication, mindful relationships and empathy, mindfulness and heartfulness, and mindfulness as a way of life.

Distance learning

Sri Lankan Foundation specialises in distance learning, and the course will be available online for those who are unable to attend regular courses as set.

SLF Lecturer Renuka Tennakoon said: “This online resource is primarily to create awareness and to cater to those who are unable to attend regular courses.”

The four-month long Certificate Course is Rs. 35,000 and would be conducted on Mondays and Fridays from 4.00 p.m.-7.00 p.m. at SLFI. A parallel course in the morning may also be arranged depending on the number of participants. Those who wish to register could email edu@slf.lk mentioning the title of the programme course or call the hotline 0113071794.


By Dimithri Wijesinghe

Photos Krishan Kariyawasam