What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the awareness that rises when purposefully paying attention in the present moment with curiosity, acceptance, and gratitude, without judgement towards ourselves, others, and the world.
I highly encourage you to watch this video. I have found that it truly captures the essence of what it means to live mindfully. I promise it is worth watching!
For more FREE mindfulness recourses like this video, please visit PalouseMindfulness.com
How It All Began!
Mindfulness was created by Jon Kabat-Zinn back in 1979 at The University of Massachusetts. He created mindfulness to be a science based, non-religious practice instead of more traditional practices that incorporate religion, like buddhism. Although the practices of mindfulness stem from traditional buddhist practices, Jon created this program to be more modern without suggestions of worship to any higher power. Mindfulness methods were first introduced to the public during a 10-week Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program where chronically ill patients were treated by using only their bodies and their minds. The Patients included in the program had already received traditional medical care, but did not improve. After the program, 65% of Patients reported reductions in chronic pain of at least 33%, and 50% showed a reduction of 50% or more. Patients also reported other benefits like mood regulation and psychiatric symptomatology. This is only after 10-weeks of practice! The conclusion of the study is
that mindfulness is an effective behavioral program for self-regulation for chronic pain patents.
Since the 80's, additional findings about mindfulness have come to the surface. Improving the physical, mental, and emotional health of many people, regardless of limitations.
The magic begins by making a conscious decision to be present.
When we are not fully engaged in the present we are often pondering the past or envisioning the future.
These thoughts are essential when learning from our past mistakes or working to achieve future goals.
Although, overthinking about the past or future may have consequences.
We may find ourselves replaying the past as if we could change it, or rehearsing the future as if we have complete control over it until we become consumed by our thoughts.
Over and over again we create scenarios about what we could have done or what we can do to solve the problem at hand.
When we find that too much of our time is spent pondering how we can change an outcome frustration, anxiety, anger, and other unpleasant feelings may arise. Instead of falling into spiraling thinking patterns like these, we can choose to be present.
This an example of how mindfulness creates balance in our lives.
What is Mindfulness?
Take control of your body, mind, feelings, and emotions. From mindfulness practices to lifestyle habits, uncover the basics on how to live mindfully.
We begin with the formal practice, experiencing mindfulness in a class setting. Guided instruction is the best and fastest way to learn the methods of mindfulness. During the formal practice we physically learn the method of mindfulness, it is the informal practice where we see these the benefits from mindfulness come about. The informal practice is when we start using the methods out of a class setting, informally practicing mindfulness all the time. Walking, brushing teeth, eating, working, interacting with others, and other dull daily duties can be transformed into enjoyable experiences. When mindfulness methods begin to happen subconsciously, we turn our daily duties into moments of informal practice. This is where you begin to see yourself using that breathing exercise when feeling anxiety and doing chair yoga poses to alleviate bodily tension while working. Engaging in a consistent formal and informal practice is recommended to receive maximum benefits from mindfulness practices.
The formal practice takes place in a class setting by making conscious decisions to attend mindfulness classes. The informal practice happens later when we begin taking the methods learned in class and subconsciously incorporate them into daily life to calm the mind, reduce stress, and live more mindfully. The repetition of conscious mindfulness practices allows us to begin subconsciously incorporating mindful tendencies. The informal practice begins without thinking about it, and I find it to be of most importance. Although the informal practice can take place with a conscious effort, we benefit most when the subconscious mind begins to use mindfulness methods. Before we know it we find ourselves present in the moment without effort and resolving issues with mindfulness methods instead of turning to habitual explosive tendencies.
Formal V.S. Informal Practice
The methods behind mindfulness work to transform thinking patterns to be more positive and productive.
The following cycle is taught in a formal class setting, but may also apply to the informal practice.
We start by discovering how we can make a connection to the present moment.
This flow of actions connects us to what is happening right here, right now.
First, we make the choice to bring our attention to what is happening right now.
Second, we let our attitude be curious and in awe, like the outlook we have that comes with experiencing something new.
Third, we cultivate the intention to do these actions purposefully.
Lastly, we use our awareness to observe thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment.
Before we know it we are in the present moment! Then, the cycle repeats.
Constantly moving through the motions and in turn creating this connection to what is happening right now.
Making a conscious decision to become awake in the present
Keeping an open mind with curiosity and wonder
Gently focusing on observations of the present moment
Intending to be in the moment, on purpose
Changing with the Cycle of Mindfulness
A recipe for how to get connected to the present moment!
I have found this cycle to be most useful when resolving issues within my life and turning everyday activities into mindful experiences. Take stress for example. If I find I am completely stressed out and anxious the culprit is my mind being in a distracted state. Usually about the past, future, a fantasy, or something else other than the present. Making the effort to change my state is attention. I enter into the present moment with an attitude of an open mind and childlike wonder. Honoring the fact that each moment is new. Knowing this moment has never been experienced before, and so will the next one. There will always be something different with each day of life, and each new experience we have. With these ideas I can open up my eyes to living each new experience in awe of every experience. Much like an attitude like a child does. Fully involved, interested, and awake in the experience and having fun. That's the attitude we should be open minded to when experiencing the each moment. The intention for the present moment is to be fully present with the experience you are doing. The person your speaking with, the task you are doing has your full and complete attention.
Mindfulness includes the capacity for lowering one‘s reactivity; the ability to notice and observe sensations, thoughts and feelings even though they might be unpleasant; acting with awareness and intention; and focusing on experience, not the labels and judgments we apply to them. In Mindful Practice for clinicians, four qualities of exemplary practitioners are described: attentive observation, critical curiosity, beginner‘s mind and presence.
These are 4 actions that I repeat to myself to enter into a mindful state, but what works best for others may differ.
I bring my attention to a mindful state by making a conscious choice to connect to the present moment.
I allow my attitude to be curious and childlike to experience each moment for the first time.
I want my intention to be in the present moment, so I make a purposeful choice to do that.
I redirect my awareness from distractions to the present moment through bodily sensations, feelings, or the surrounding environment.
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness are the places of focus that connect us to the present moment. They are the foundations in which we experience mindfulness. The body, feelings, mind, and penomina are the bases where we can experience mindfulness.