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 Post subject: Mindfulness
 Post Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2005 2:29 am 
Mindfulness

Mindfulness is focusing your attention on the present moment. It is paying attention to each moment, living in the here-and-now. Instead of the what-ifs and if-onlys, the focus is on the what-is.

Its opposite, mindlessness, is going through life ignoring the present moment because of attention directed toward the goal rather than the experience. Mindlessness occurs when you drive to school or work and describe yourself as being an automatic pilot. All of a sudden, you are at your destination without having really experienced the trip. How sad it is that some people reach the end of their lives without ever having truly experienced the trip along the way.

Mindfulness dates all the way back to Eastern and Western traditions of religion, philosophy, and psychology. It recognises existentialist philosophy, such as that of Albert Camus, which argues that who we are is more important than what we do.

When patients have been taught to have this focus, mindfulness has been found effective in treating chronic pain, psoriasis, and anxiety disorders. Since stress is often caused by a preoccupation with the past (guilt, shame, regret) or with the future (fear of upcoming events), mindfulness is an excellent way to help manage stress.

Factfile

A simple act such as walking involves nearly all of your muscles. The abdominal (stomach) and back muscles are busy holding the spine and head and shoulders up and allowing your trunk to twist slightly and your arms to work in opposition to your legs (i.e. as your left leg swings forward, so does the right arm— hopefully!).

The Mindfulness Process

1. What is my purpose in this moment?

(For example, doing your daily mindfulness practice, use focusing on your breath as your purpose. Other purposes you can use include such activities as completing a report, talking to a patient/client, or reading a bedtime story to your child.) What am I here for? Returning to your purpose in the moment offers a focus for your practice.

2. When your mind wanders, stop and observe: in this moment, where is my awareness or attention?

What am I thinking? (About the past or future, planning, worrying) What am I feeling? (Pleasant, unpleasant, neutral)

What am I sensing? (seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching) What am I experiencing in my body? (Tension, breath, tightness)

Simply note thinking, feeling, sensing, or whatever you are experiencing in your body.

3. Bring your awareness/attention back to the moment and your purpose by breathing in and breathing out. Do not attempt to change your breathing, but merely observe and experience the in-and-out of your breath and return to your purpose in the moment.

4. Repeat these steps as necessary to bring yourself back to the moment.

A good way to apply this process is to practice it daily and use breathing as the focal point (purpose) for the mindfulness process. Finding a quiet place and consistent time helps develop this process, which slowly can be applied to all activities, experiences, and interactions.

Mindfulness can be developed in a number of ways. One is to focus on your breathing, called mindful breathing. In this way, the mind is quieted and attention is drawn to the here-and-now.


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