Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We feel more alive. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation and healing. Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness and mindful living refers to the practice of attending to present moment internal experience without judgment or trying to change anything. It involves nothing more than spending a quiet moment with yourself, noticing what’s happening in the inner landscape of sensations, feelings and thoughts. Watching with your mind’s eye as your internal experience passes through your awareness. Naming what’s happening, such as stomach relaxing or feeling worried or thinking “planning” thoughts. Then releasing each, allowing space for the next experience to arrive. Not trying to change anything! Just noticing and naming. There is no right or wrong. Simply being aware and curious in the moment for whatever arises for you, all on its own. Choose a quiet moment, perhaps when getting into your car or resting at home. Sitting or lying down in a relaxed balanced position, follow a few deep breaths into your belly, then make some audible sighs out to release tension and observe. Feel the bottoms of your feet grounded, your lower body heavy and connected to ground, your back body relaxing into the support of your seat. Scan your body slowly upward, breathing into any areas of tension or numbness. Simply practice watching each sensation, feeling or thought pass by. If you find yourself hooked into a story, worry or memory, gently come back to observing your breath. You may be doing that every few seconds at first, but that’s OK. Remember, no judgment. Mindful living! It turns out that witnessing our internal experience without judgment is calming to the brain! And the more we practice it, the more our brain likes it and wants it. It quiets the chatter all on its own and becomes peaceful. That sense of well-being soon becomes a new way of being inside yourself.
Over 80% of our thoughts are repetitions of previous thoughts, sometimes thousands of times before. Is your mind like a broken record or perhaps a puppy who can’t sit still? Does it jump wildly from the past to the future with hardly any awareness of where you are right now? We can’t control the past or the future, so the only well-being available is in the present moment, cultivating acceptance of “what is” right now. We know from neuroscience that whatever we focus upon magnifies and whatever we release our attachment to diminishes. The spiritual leader Thich Nhat Han uses the metaphor of a garden. If we water the flowers and starve the weeds, we will have a beautiful garden. So it follows that we can bring intention and focus to accepting our thoughts, sensations and feelings as is, cultivating this calm state of mind in our internal “garden”. I teach mindfulness to my clients and we use it therapeutically, both through guided imagery and sensorimotor psychotherapy. Even a few minutes at the beginning of a session allows us to deepen into the healing space and focus our work. It is excellent for all symptoms, including anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and overall loss of energy and passion. I practice it daily and it has changed my life!