Friday, February 8, 2013

Mindful Awareness

What is Mindfulness?

While many people think mindfulness means meditation, this is not the case. Mindfulness is a mental state of openness, awareness and focus, and meditation is just one way amongst hundreds of learning to cultivate this state.
Although mindfulness has only recently been embraced by Western psychology, it is an ancient practice found in a wide range of Eastern philosophies, including Buddhism, Taoism and Yoga. Mindfulness involves consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience with openness, curiosity and flexibility. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a world authority on the use of mindfulness training in the management of clinical problems, defines it as: "Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."
Most people get distracted, “zone out,” or spend most of their daily lives being unmindful or running on autopilot. As a result, they then get lost, anxious, and frustrated when a situation doesn’t happen as they expect it to. Here are some examples:

·         While driving or traveling, you don’t remember the experience or which roads you took.
·         While having a conversation, you’re already thinking about what you’re going to say next before the other person has even stopped speaking.
·         While taking a shower, you’re already planning what you have to do later and then forget that you’ve already washed your hair.
·         While reading, you suddenly realize that you’ve been thinking about something else and have no idea what you’ve just read.

These experiences are common for most of us and are fairly harmless. But for people with overwhelming emotions, being unmindful can often have a negative impact on their lives.

Why are Mindfulness skills important?

·         Mindfulness skills help you focus on one thing at a time in the present moment, and by doing this you can better control and soothe your overwhelming emotions.
·         Being mindful can help you learn to become more connected to yourself, to others, and to the world around you.
·         Mindfulness helps increase self-awareness
·         Mindfulness will help you become less judgmental
·         Mindfulness will help you become less disturbed by and less reactive to unpleasant experiences.
·         Being mindful reminds us that everything changes; that thoughts and feelings come and go like the weather.

Through group discussion and the practice of a variety of mindfulness exercises, the Mindful Awareness Group will help you tune in to yourself, improve concentration, calm your mind, and learn to live in the present moment.

Some material borrowed from:

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dr. Marsha Linehan, and