Mindfulness is a psychological concept adapted from Buddhist meditation that relates to how much an individual is aware of their situation, their surroundings and themselves at this moment in time. In the here and now.
Thich Nhat Hanh, 86-year-old Vietnamese Buddhist
His message is simple yet profound. He teaches us to live every moment of our day mindfully, to be grateful for the good things and to take care of the difficulties we encounter in ourselves and outside in the world. Through awareness of our breath and the small acts of daily life, we can transform and heal our lives and reach out to others in love and compassion.
In one of his best known books, The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh writes about how mindfulness saved his life during a period of severe depression after his mother’s death.
In another popular book, ‘Peace Is Every Step’, (Foreword by the Dalai Lama), Hanh writes “The roots of war are in the way we live our daily lives – the way we develop our industries, build up our society and consume goods. We cannot just blame one side or the other. We have to transcend the tendency to take sides.”
“WE ARE MORE THAN OUR ANGER”
In a time of anger or despair, even if we feel overwhelmed, our love is still there. Our capacity to communicate, to forgive, to be compassionate is still there. You have to believe this. We are more than our anger, we are more than our suffering. We must recognise that we do have within us the capacity to love, to understand, to be compassionate, always.” – from Taming the Tiger Within – meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions by Thich Nhat Hanh from his books, No Death, No Fear; Anger and Going Home (Penguin, 2004).
Kabat-Zinn adapted Hanh’s teachings on mindfulness into the structured eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course, which has since spread throughout the western World.
Mindfulness exercises: How to get started
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mindfulness-exercises/MY02124
Looking to start living in the moment? Find out how to use mindfulness exercises to develop a greater awareness of the world around you.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment — without interpretation or judgment.
Spending too much time planning, problem-solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be draining. It can also make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Practicing mindfulness exercises, on the other hand, can help you direct your attention away from this kind of thinking and engage with the world around you
What are the benefits of mindfulness exercises?
Practicing mindfulness exercises can have many possible benefits, including:
Reduced stress, anxiety and depression
Less negative thinking and distraction
What are some examples of mindfulness exercises?
There are many ways to practice mindfulness. For example:
Pay attention. The next time you meet someone, listen closely to his or her words. Think about their meaning and uniqueness. Aim to develop a habit of understanding others and delaying your own judgments and criticisms.
Make the familiar new again. Find a few small, familiar objects — such as a toothbrush, apple or cellphone — in your home or office. Look at the objects with fresh eyes. Identify one new detail about each object that you didn’t see before. As you become more aware of your world, you might become fonder of the things around you.
Focus on your breathing. Sit in a quiet place with your back straight, but relaxed. Feel your breath move in and out of your body. Let your awareness of everything else fall away. Pay attention to your nostrils as air passes in and out. Notice the way your abdomen expands and collapses with each breath. When your mind wanders, gently redirect your attention to your breath. Don’t judge yourself. Remember that you’re not trying to become anything — such as a good mediator. You’re simply becoming aware of what’s happening around you, breath by breath.
Awaken your senses. Get a raisin. Sit in a quiet place with your back straight, but relaxed. Look at the raisin. Smell it, feel it and anticipate eating it. Taste the raisin, and slowly and deliberately chew it. Notice the way the raisin’s taste changes, your impulse to swallow the raisin, your response to that impulse and any thoughts or emotions that arise along the way. Paying close attention to your senses and your body’s reaction to the raisin might reveal insight into your relationship with eating and food.
When and how often should I practice mindfulness exercises?
It depends on what kind of mindfulness exercise you plan to do.
For example, if you choose to closely pay attention to another’s words, you can repeat the exercise throughout the day. You might try it when you wake up and talk to your partner, at the beginning of a meeting with a co-worker, or during dinner with your friends or family. Avoid practicing this type of exercise while driving, however. Aim to practice for 15 to 20 minutes, four to eight times a day.
For other mindfulness exercises, such as focused breathing, you’ll need to set aside time when you can be in a quiet place without distractions or interruptions. You might choose to practice this type of exercise early in the morning, before you begin your daily routine.
Aim to practice mindfulness every day for about six months. Over time, you might find that mindfulness becomes effortless. Think of it as a commitment to reconnecting with and nurturing yourself.
MY02124 Sept. 19, 2012
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