“Mindfulness is a way of connecting with your life,” according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. It is an awareness of the present moment. He defines mindfulness as “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.” This means that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re feeling in the present moment rather than recalling the past or imagining the future.
The cultivation of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, but most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life. Thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness meditation and have demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health attitudes and behaviors.
Why Practice Mindfulness?
Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness, even for just a few weeks, has all kinds of physical, emotional, and social benefits. These are just a few of these benefits.
- Mindfulness improves well-being by focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up worrying about the future or regretting the past, are less concerned about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others
- Mindfulness improves physical health in a number of ways such as: relieving stress, boosting the immune system, and lowering blood pressure.
- Mindfulness improves mental health treating a number of problems including: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and anxiety.
- Mindfulness helps us focus: Research has found that it increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy
Do you practice mindfulness? Has it noticeably impacted your life?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn was a student of Buddhist teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh and Zen Master Seung Sahn and a founding member of Cambridge Zen Center. His practice of yoga and studies with Buddhist teachers led him to integrate their teachings with those of science. He teaches mindfulness, which he says can help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness. The stress reduction program created by Kabat-Zinn, called Mindfulness-based stress reduction, is offered by medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations.
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September 8, 2014My Mindfulness Journey – Days 2-5: Progressing In Small Procedures | Rinroad Writes | Queer Cents
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