Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist teaching with respect to pondering and meditation. One need not subscribe to Eastern religion to adhere to pondering and mindfulness. It can be lived in common every day life. Mindfulness is the state within which one has keen and clear awareness. It is conceptualized as a mental state that is characterized by calm yet sharp awareness of one’s body, feelings, and mental process. Mindfulness is twofold in that it is a mental and physical state of presentness, and being in the ‘now’. Mindfulness, is a healthy practice for those who wish to reduce stress, manage conflicts in relationships, or build personal awareness. One can cultivate mindfulness during meditation/pondering by quelling thoughts related to the past or the future and instead being keenly aware of what is going on in one’s body. Individuals that practice mindfulness pay attention to the present, to what is happening right now. Mindfulness is self-care, taking care of oneself and managing one’s thoughts in a purposeful way. Often individuals minds are aware yet are also engaged and entirely unaware of other processes occurring (emotions, memories, fears, etc). For example, if one were mindful in a discussion with a spouse, they would be aware of their body’s sensations, their facial expressions, their breathing,and their thoughts and emotions. One might also be aware of their spouses current process as well. It is imperative that one learn and comprehend emotional processes within themselves and be able to purposefully monitor and connect with them in order to manage and direct relationships in a healthy and productive manner. Individuals that find themselves in conflict with others are typically ‘aware’ of the conflict and issues yet are not mindful or purposeful about how they speak or listen to others. It is in using purposeful language and mindful intention that guides them to attune themselves to others in their relationships, which results in healthy bonds and meaningful attachments. Mindfulness is not an act or something you simply do, it is something that you begin doing and eventually it is something that you are.Taking even a few minutes out of each day to find a quiet space and sit and simply be. By being I am referring to not thinking about work, family, responsibilities, etc. but simply just sitting still and ‘being’. Noticing your breathing, your body, the quiet. It is a way of calming the static and chaos that can occur from ones busy life. Doing this midday while away from external distractions can help to re-center and reduce stress. Research suggests that mindfulness meditation may improve mood, decrease stress, and boost immune function found in study by Kabat-Zinn, a guru of mindfulness meditation and the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.
Mindfulness Meditation – An Example
1. Find a quiet and comfortable place, ideally one without others around where you can be still.
2. Keep your mind in the present, avoid past or future events, relationships, etc.
3. Engage in being aware of your body and how it feels. Focus on your breathing and the sensation of air movement as you breathe. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.
4. Notice the thoughts that enter in your mind and leave, thoughts that may be related to fear, doubt, or stress and like thoughts. When these enter in your mind don’t push them out, rather simply note them, remain still and calm and use your breathing a stable area to lean on.
5. If your mind finds itself drifting off, become aware of where you drifted to and without criticism or judgment, simply move back into your breathing.
6. As your mindful session is concluding, sit for one to two minutes, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually. Also, for a good book on mindfulness I would recommend Mindfulness in Plain English, Updated and Expanded Edition
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