Mindful Moments: Introduction to MINDFUL AWARENESS
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, mindfulness is, “The awareness that arises from paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, moment-by-moment, non-judgmentally.”
The basic instructions are simple:
- Become aware of the present moment.
- When you notice your attention has wandered off, gently redirect your attention back to the present moment.
While the concept of mindful awareness is simple, the practice can be challenging.
Most of us will initially struggle with the motivation to sit and do ‘nothing’. Our minds will begin thinking of all the things we should be doing or could be doing instead of just sitting and breathing. This struggle is real and reinforced by a world that is fast-paced, multi-task driven, and focused on doing, doing, doing.
Once we have convinced ourselves to show up and ‘do this thing’, now our frustration lands on the exact, ‘How am I supposed to do this?’ dilemma. How are we supposed to sit? What should we do with our hands? How in the world do we stay awake?
Having a teacher, guide, or mentor to support our initial efforts can be priceless. Attempting to navigate the mind-boggling assortment of strategies, techniques and various beliefs being promoted on the internet, YouTube, and seemingly from everywhere these days, can be very overwhelming and keep us from even beginning.
There is no shortage of videos, books, apps, and even gadgets designed to create mindful awareness for us or promising a short-cut that will allow us to just turn off our chattering, chaotic minds and get some rest and relaxation, disappearing into blissful oblivion. Yet nothing can replace the actual experience of being aware…which takes practice.
Here are some useful tips for creating a daily mindful awareness practice:
- Create inspiration – identify a space that is welcoming, calming, private, and enjoyable to be in. You don’t have to buy anything! Decorate with items that have meaning, sentimental value, or just create a sense of YOU.
- Create silence – choose the time of your practice carefully to limit noisy distractions and avoid adding background music or soundtracks. No headphones.
- Create an intention – identify a ‘why’ for your practice and make it personal. What is it you want to learn, understand, heal from, or experience? Write it down…and revisit and rewrite your intentions frequently.
- Create a record of your experience – begin a mindful awareness journal to document your journey.
- Create a commitment to yourself – to show up and see what happens.
For the past 20 years scientists, psychologists and neuroscientists have studied mindfulness and how we are affected in our minds, bodies, and our overall sense of wellness from the practice of cultivating awareness. While we continue to explore and discover the concrete and proven benefits of practicing mindful awareness, here are a few that most seem to agree on:
- Increases our ability to pay attention
- Increases our resiliency to stress
- Increases our capacity for compassion, for ourselves and for others
- Improves our overall sense of mental health
- Improves our relationships with ourselves and others
- Reduces our internal negative bias
- Supports our immune health and impacts our physical health
To begin your daily practice, check out the Introduction to Mindful Awareness guided recording linked below;
Introduction to Mindful Awareness.mp3