Once a fringe topic, mindfulness is now very much part of mainstream culture frequently seen on the media and on the internet. TIME magazine even published a special edition on Mindfulness: The science of health and happiness (September, 2016). One definition of mindfulness is the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally (Jon Kabat-Zinn). However, it can be confusing with mindfulness being used to describe very different practices.
It is perhaps useful to understand how mindfulness might work. From my perspective, mindfulness is a useful tool for training attention and awareness. In mindfulness of breath practice, we learn to:
The consistent and regular practice then allow us to apply mindfulness in daily life. We can learn to interrupt ruminative thoughts and switch and sustain our attention back to the task at hand or to be fully present and engaging with another person. If you are looking to explore, here are some helpful resources:
One of my favourite practices is Taking in the Good by Dr Rick Hanson. The beauty of this practice is in its simplicity of taking a moment to notice good things even if it is tiny. Often our worries and unhelpful thoughts get a lot of air time, yet we may not even notice the positive. Or we may have even developed the habit of actively discounting and negating the positive unconsciously. This practice starts to retrain our brain to also attend to the good.
Experiment: Taking a moment to notice the good. It can be a moment when someone was kind, when we stood our ground, when we received a compliment, or when we completed something. Savour that experience by focusing on every detail. Allow each detail to be like a drop of water that creates ripple through your body before settling deep in each cell.
Commit to taking in three good things daily for 1 week. What happened?
Notice if it was easy or difficult to find something good? Was it pleasant? Or perhaps it felt uncomfortable to notice that we are enough, we are loved, we are capable? Was there resistance to the exercise? Could we stay with that feeling? Did it become easier?
Collecting drop by drop, we start to notice that we are enough as we are, we are loving, loved and lovable, and we are worthy.
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