What is Mindfulness?
The definition applied for these classes is from The University of Massachusetts Medical School/Center for Mindfulness’s, Jon Kabat-Zinn: “The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose in present moment, no judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment”.
Mindfulness. It’s a pretty straightforward word. It suggests that the mind is fully attending to what’s happening to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through. That might seem trivial, except for the annoying fact that we so often veer from the matter at hand.
Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. And that makes us anxious!
Yet no matter how far we drive away, mindfulness is right there to snap us back to where we are and what we’re doing and feeling. If you want to know what mindfulness is, it’s best to try it for a while, since it’s hard to nail down in words.
The best way to try mindfulness practice is to begin mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation gives us a time in our lives when we can suspend judgement and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness to ourselves and others.
A Few Practical Things About Mindfulness
Mindfulness goes by other names, but it is familiar to us because it’s what we already do!
Mindfulness is not a special added thing we have to do. We already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. We just have to practice, and after you learn how to practice, all else gets clearer.
You don’t have to change. You do not become someone different, nor do you have to give up anything.
Mindfulness recognizes and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings.
Anyone can do it.
It’s a way of living.
It’s evidence based.
It sparks innovation!
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.
Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them-without believing, for instance, that there’s a right or wrong way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Mindfulness classes teach present moment awareness, mindful practices, and specifically how mindfulness can help you personally in your life.
Why Practice Mindfulness?
Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness, even for just a few weeks, can bring a variety of physical, psychological, and social benefits. Here are some of these benefits, which extend across many different settings.
Mindfulness is great for our bodies! A seminar study found that, after just eight weeks of training, practicing mindfulness meditation boosts our immune system’s ability to fight off illness.
Mindfulness is great for our minds! Several studies have found that mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress. One study suggests that it may be as good for treating depression as antidepressants and preventing relapse.
Mindfulness helps us focus! Studies suggest that mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and improves our memory and attention skills. This is great for ALL ages.
Mindfulness fosters compassion and altruism! Research suggests mindfulness training makes us more likely to help someone in need and increases activity in neural networks involved in understanding the suffering of others and regulating emotions. Evidence suggests it might boost self compassion as well.
Mindfulness enhances relationships! Research suggests mindfulness training makes couples more satisfied with their relationship, makes each partner feel more optimistic and relaxed, and makes them feel more accepting of and closer to one another.