Posted by Administrator on 9/21/2013
“Mindfulness is a way
of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life, a way of
taking charge of your life, a way of doing something for yourself that no one
else can do for you”, says the Center of Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts
(UM) Medical School. For many of us it is the first step towards healing –
working with our own stress, pain and illness directly and compassionately. The
opposite to mindfulness is that confused, disconnected sensation, better known
as mindlessness, which dulls the senses, creates a loss of awareness,
mechanical responses and forgetfulness.
ancestors, most of us in the world today do not live in constant fear of wild
animals, global epidemics/disasters or of the neighboring tribe bearing down on
any given day. We have a much greater sense and better understanding of our
world and how it works so that we’ve developed mechanisms and approaches to
master many aspects of it. Yet in this modern, advanced society with all its
advantages, our stress levels are profoundly high, to the extent that stress is
now recognized as a major factor in several chronic and fatal diseases.
But what exactly is
mindfulness? Several definitions of have been used in modern psychology. According to
Psychology Today, “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the
present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a
distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass
you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience”.
Mindfulness has also
been defined as a psychological quality that involves:-
First - bringing one’s
complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis, this
involves paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present
moment, and nonjudgmentally. And second - each thought, feeling, or sensation
that arises is acknowledged, and accepted as it is.
In fact, training in
mindfulness and mindfulness-based practices, often results in the development
of a ‘Beginner' Mind' i.e. the ability to look
at an experience as if for the first time.
We all know what
it feels like to be overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, despondent. When these powerful
emotions occur, mindfulness can help us reduce their impact with some basic
Stop what you are doing
Breathe deeply and fully, concentrating on every breathe, becoming aware
of your body and all its sensations
Recognize your thoughts and reactions, but do not judge or attempt to
Do not identify with your thoughts - your thoughts are not you.
Regard yourself with compassion
If possible, find an action which will support you at the moment, a
brief walk, playing music, talking with a good friend, etc.
can help people to begin to recognise their habitual patterns of thinking,
which have developed out of awareness over time. This process allows the
individual to eventually respond to difficult situations in new rather than
mindfulness programs have demonstrated improvements such as -
- Lasting decreases in physical and
- An increased ability to relax
- Reductions in pain levels and an
enhanced ability to cope with chronic pain
- Greater energy and enthusiasm for
- Improved self-esteem
- An ability to cope more
effectively with both short and long-term stressful situations.
Indeed, to deal with the effects
of stress, a number of psychological and
medical centers have incorporated mindfulness into their stress and anxiety
relief programs, e.g. the UM Center for
Mindfulness, University Health Network, University of Toronto, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and
Public Health, etc.
Fortunately for us,
mindfulness is not something that you have to acquire. The ability to be
mindful is present in each one of us, it simply requires practice. It is a deep
internal resource, readily available and patiently waiting to be released and
used to help us grow in awareness and to improve the quality of our lives
through compassionate healing.