What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully paying attention to your life experiences (Internal & external), with kindness and curiosity, here and now without judgement.
Introduced into medicine thirty years ago Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, mindfulness has become a successful mainstream influence in medicine, psychology, corporate environments, and now education.
According to Richard David, PhD founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, scientific research has proven that practicing Mindfulness can lower the stress hormone cortisol and reduce stress and anxiety, and improve sleep. Individuals, who practice mindfulness has shown to have better emotional balance and general overall wellbeing and greater satisfaction in life,
Article by Richard Davidson, PhD Why Well Being is a Skill?
Mindfulness supports the social emotional goals in many schools. Research in neuroscience has shown many benefits.
• Improved focus and concentration
• Fosters a Greater sense of calm
• Reduced stress and anxiety
• Equips Students with Skills and Techniques to Respond to Difficult Emotions
• Increases empathy and understanding of others
• Develops Healthy and Effective Conflict Resolution Skills
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
Awareness. Breath. Center.
Attention to A-B- C allows one to enter a state of mindfulness which ultimately opens awareness and liberates the mind.
Some have described meditation as a way to stop thinking without falling asleep. That is partially true; the aim in meditation is not to stop the thought process but rather to observe our thoughts without getting swept away with emotional attachment and judgement. By practicing this we are able to bring better clarity and attentiveness to being fully present.
It is then when we are fully present and immersed with all our sensations we can engage in whatever activity with greater focus and skill. Mindfulness will not be the panacea to all problems and stressors in life, but it is a skill that one can practice to help ride the waves of life and build resiliency to deepen and experience the greater joy of what life has to offer.
Entering a state of A-B-C one can shift the attention from thoughts that are emotionally dominating.
One should remember that thoughts are not real! We tend to live in a state of “If only” and “What if?” This thought pattern can conjure up the body to believe it is under great threat, hence triggering the amygdala the part of the brain that signals “Fight, flight or freeze”. When this happens the body reacts as if it is under attack and one can experience heightened anxiety with sensations of heart palpitations’, shortness of breath, sweaty palms, this experience is often referred to as a panic attack. Mindfulness and breathing techniques can counter the experience bring the mind and body to a calmer state of being.
“I’ve been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
Bring Awareness to the present experience: observe the sensory experiences of sights, sounds, touches, smell, taste etc. (Without having judgement.)
The rhythm of your Breath and the sensation of the feeling of our breath coming into and leaving our body. Focus on the breath is essential to finding your anchor which enables you to developing your awareness and mindfulness practice.
Breathe in such a way that your inhalation and exhalation are the same duration; for example count 1-2-3-4 in your mind while inhaling and 1-2-3-4 while exhaling.
At the same time, imagine or sense that you’re breathing in and out of your heart.
Simultaneously meditate on a heartfelt emotion such as gratitude or love.
This breathing technique will help calm the sympathetic nervous system and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system into a state of calm.
Center and “Check In”
Examine your internal landscape and emotional state of mind. Are your thoughts heavy and overwhelming, fleeting and light? Choose to either stay in this experience or move on.
“Before stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is the power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”