What is Mindfulness?
In my experience, mindfulness is the most influential and accessible tool in empowering healing and wellness. This article will give you a brief historical context as well as a general definition to lay a foundation for learning the techniques associated with mindfulness practices.
Mindfulness is traditionally associated with Buddhist practices, specifically Vipassana meditation practices.
These include bringing your attention to your breath (Breath Awareness Meditation), awareness to the body (Body Scan Meditation), and directing kindness towards others and your Self to cultivate empathy and compassion (Loving Kindness Meditation).
Though the historical origins have roots in Buddhism, mindfulness is an inherent human capacity that transcends culture and philosophies. Bringing purposeful attention and non-judgemental awareness to the present moment, is at the heart of many traditions and cultures.
In fact, mindfulness is the core of yoga philosophy. Yoga focuses on bringing awareness of the body, breath and mind to unite them in order to calm the fluctuations of the mind. Read my article on “The Who, What, Where & Why of Yoga” to get a brief introduction and inspiration to begin your practice.
Modern mindfulness practice is considered to be pioneered by Jon Kabat-Zin. His work brought mindfulness into the mainstream, conventional practices of medicine and psychology. He has many books introducing and expanding the concepts involved in practicing mindfulness. His work led to the development of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, which I personally recommend to anyone who is living with stress, anxiety, pain or illness. It was integral to my healing when I first completed it in 2014, and I still utilize the tools to this day.
The Definition of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a practice of bringing awareness to your thoughts, absent of judgement, to bring you fully into the present moment.
When I earned my mindfulness teaching certification, the course gave Jon Kabat-Zin’s definition:
“The awareness that emerges through paying attention ON PURPOSE, in the PRESENT MOMENT, and NON-JUDGMENTALLY.”
This statement was further dissected through these three parts
1. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose.
When you direct your attention ‘on purpose’, this means that you are being deliberate. This is different than just being aware. It moves beyond awareness. When you are deliberate, you are intentional and active in what you are bringing your attention and awareness to.
2. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment.
As you bring your attention into the present moment, you shift from a place of reactivity into a place of centered response. This is not an easy task, especially in today’s world. It takes practice of seeing thoughts as what they are – simple, mental events – activities of the brain.
3. Mindfulness is paying attention non-judgmentally.
This third component of mindfulness is absolutely essential. When you view thoughts non-judgmentally, you separate cognitive from emotional experience. You allow things to be just as they are without the values of ‘good’ or ‘bad’. When non-judgment is practiced, you begin to shift into recognizing that experiences and emotions may be pleasant or unpleasant to us, but regardless they do not require an emotional reaction to them.
The most important takeaway when learning about mindfulness, is that it requires PRACTICE.
“Being present and nonjudgemental is perhaps the hardest work in the world, and the most necessary.” -Jon Kabat-Zin
You will not do this alone, I will be right here along the journey with you to provide you with the education, inspiration and support you need to learn mindfulness to accelerate healing and maintain wellness.
Please reach out if you are looking for personalized support on your journey. I am just an email or direct message away! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with me on Facebook and Instagram.
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With love and light,
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