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A Few Things About Mindfulness

May 8, 2016

1. Mindfulness definitions:

Paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is.

UCLA MARC Diana Winston & Sue Smalley

 

Paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

A flexible state of mind in which we are actively engaged in the present, noticing new things. Ellen Langer

 

2. There is the state, the trait, and the practice of mindfulness:

The state of mindfulness is a natural human capacity that we have all

experienced.

 

We all have a set point of mindfulness that can be described as

a trait. Our trait levels can be impacted by our experiences.

 

We can cultivate the trait of mindfulness through informal and formal mindfulness practices. An example of informal mindfulness practice would be when we bring an intentional mindfulness to our everyday life activities that sometimes occur on autopilot such as our morning routine, driving, or even our communications. Formal practices are those times we set aside specifically for a guided or unguided mindfulness meditation practice. These include practices that involve breath, body sensation, sound, or movement awareness.

 

3. We cannot fail in practicing mindfulness; we can only fail to practice.

 

4. Our goal is not a mind that is free of thoughts. Our minds think and wander, that is what they do. Our goal (if there is one) is to see clearly what is here and to be able to be with it.

 

5. Although mindfulness practices have their roots in Buddhist meditation, a secular mindfulness movement has been present in the west for about three decades. Positive scientific research has inspired program development within education, business, as well as health and mental health care.

 

6. Every moment, inhale, step, obstacle, emotion, thought, conversation, relationship, and activity is an opportunity we can be mindful.

 

7. It’s not just WHAT we are doing that is important but also HOW we are doing it. We can be mindful of the quality of our attention. i.e. is it open, compassionate, kind, curious, receptive or is it critical,  judgmental, defeated...? Mindfulness can support us in cultivating the qualities we want to develop through intentional practices.

 

8. During informal or formal mindfulness practices, simple labeling of thoughts, emotions, sensations, or other distractions i.e. thinking, planning, loud, tension, sadness... helps create a space (or a PAUSE) between self and experience.

 

9. Mindfulness reminds us that EVERYTHING is IMPERMANENT and supports our resiliency in meeting change.

 

10. Mindfulness practices have been associated with improvements in health and wellness, attention, concentration, memory, emotional regulation and a host of other benefits. However, it is not a magic bullet or cure all. Mindfulness is not a replacement for (but may support!) other healthy and skillful life strategies such as exercise, social connection, medical care, medicine, nutrition, and therapies.

 

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