What is mindfulness?
The concept can be described in many ways – see which of these hold
appeal for you. Mindfulness is…
- a focused attention in the present moment (the only one we inhabit)
that wakes us up by asking: What am I aware of now? What is my
reaction to that awareness?
- a resource for supportive healing help with stress, chronic pain,
anxiety, blood pressure, immune system
- an innate capacity to access and use the intelligence of the body
(sensations, emotions, thoughts) for clarity in decision-making
- not getting lost in judgments or stories of how we think our
experience should be
- a way to expand the neuroplasticity of the brain to promote greater
focus, memory, resilience and joy
How can I learn to be mindful?
A researcher in adult learning, Malcolm Knowles says that adults learn best
when: they understand why something is important to know or to do right
now; the learning is experiential; the process is positive and encouraging.
Why now? If you’ve decided to pay more conscious attention to how you
live or you want to reduce stress and anxiety in your life, then you’ve
already answered this question! Your intention is to create a change, to
reduce stress, to enjoy your life.
Experiential learning: The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course offers
opportunities every week to practice specific skills and to reflect on your
reactions to these multiple practices. There is no required textbook reading
…instead, we ask you to practice mindfulness formally (modeled on what’s
practiced in class) and informally daily.
Positive and encouraging process: You’ll learn about your own patterns of
reactivity, how to meet them with more openness, how to begin again (and
again), how to use the body’s intelligent knowing and capacity to reduce
stress, how to bring attitudes of curiosity, kindness, gratitude to your life.
In the context of discussion and reflection, the shared experiences remind us
of what it means to be human and to greet ourselves with some compassion.
If true learning equals a change in behavior, then any new habit pattern must
be practiced regularly over time in order for the body/mind to establish a
new way of being. Imagine trying to brush your teeth with your non-dominant
hand. Most likely it would take a couple of months of practice
until that felt natural.
Learning to be mindful (or to cook or play the guitar or speak a new language)
takes time, intention and some diligent practice. In the end, new
habits form; mind and body are changed with practice and insight.
What do I need to consider for a practice of mindfulness?
These beginning guidelines are practiced in the classroom weekly and in
- pause – the body and the mind to establish a calm, alert, receptive
state (like allowing a cup of muddy water to settle, become clear)
- relax – soften places of holding in the body…the forehead, jaw,
shoulders, hands, belly, pelvis, feet.
- suspend judgment – see our seeing (like the camera director who’s
filming you, your thoughts and your movements)
- observe with focused attention – the habits and the conditioning of
the body and mind (stories, assumptions, fears) in which we let go
- allow intuition, vision or insight to arise – we let go and let come.
Filed Under: Monthly Musings