What is Mindfulness? Rooted in Buddhist meditation, mindfulness is the practice of staying “in the moment.” It involves tuning into your thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and environment. It involves accepting your thoughts and feelings without judging them as right or wrong. As opposed to rehashing the past or worrying about the future, mindfulness means paying attention to what you’re feeling in the present moment. In essence, mindfulness means paying attention mindfully – on purpose.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Since 1979, mindfulness practice has increasingly entered the mainstream. Championed by Jon Kabat-Zinn from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, thousands of studies have affirmed the physical and mental health benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR has since been adapted for use in hospitals, schools, treatment centers, prisons, and more.
In a nutshell, the ABC’s of practicing mindfulness can be summarized as follows:
- Being with your present experience
- Creating a gap between your experience and reaction to it, which allows you to make wiser choices and to respond versus react
The many proven benefits of mindfulness include:
- Reducing automatic/habitual reactions
- Slowing down/stopping brain chatter
- Becoming more aware
- Fully experiencing the present
- Reducing stress
- Learning to regulate emotions
- Responding more effectively to difficult situations
- Interrupting self-sabotaging patterns of behavior
- Gaining clarity
- Achieving balance
- Increasing focus
- Improving relationships
- Creating new, healthier neural pathways
- Helps fight depression
- Improves memory and attention skills
- Powerful aid to therapy
- Can be practiced by young and old
Mindfulness in Schools
Research shows that teaching mindfulness in schools reduces behavioral problems such as aggression and increases students’ ability to focus and pay attention. Teachers trained in mindfulness further show greater compassion and empathy and have less negative emotion.
Mindfulness in Prisons
In prisons, recent evidence shows that the practice of mindfulness decreases prisoner outbursts, hostility and rage, increases awareness of thoughts and feelings, and is a powerful tool in their rehabilitation and reintegration.
Healthcare Professionals and Mindfulness
Healthcare professionals also report the benefits of mindfulness, including coping with stress, connecting more with clients, reducing negative emotions, increasing capacity for compassion, and improving overall quality of life.
Types of Mindfulness Practices
Types of mindfulness practices include:
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
- Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
- Mindfulness Based Parenting
- Mindfulness Based Childbirth
- Body Scan Exercises
- Body Awareness Exercises
- Learning How the Mind Works
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Walking Meditation
- Loving Kindness Meditation
Learn more about cultivating mindfulness and enjoy a more balanced, peaceful, productive, happier and healthier life.