What is mindfulness?

Mindful Awareness is something we are all capable of. Mindfulness has been proven by science to reduce feelings of stress, make our bodies healthier, help us integrate the body and mind – and ultimately can lead to greater confidence and presence.  

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For many people, one of the most powerful manifestations of mindfulness is an increased sense of compassion for ones self – and ultimately for others.  

Many of us have been conditioned to judge ourselves harshly, to assume ‘if only I could change the way I am’.

Mindfulness provides a new lens to see the natural qualities of our uniqueness, learning to accept who we are as whole and good. 

There are many definitions of what ‘mindfulness’ means.

Here is one of my favourites:

‘…paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. Mindful awareness is an excellent antidote to the stresses of modern times. It invites us to stop, breathe, observe, and connect with one’s inner experience’

– UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Centre

So, where do we go from here?

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We can explore ways to be mindful in our day to day life, and we can explore mindfulness through meditation. Mindfulness meditation offers a time to  become acquainted with our thoughts. It is also a gateway to becoming more integrated and present with the physical experience of being in our bodies. Noticing our thoughts as they arise, we can tap into the natural rise and fall of our breath as an ‘anchor’ or point of reference to bring us back to the moment – again and again and again.
In doing so, we learn to allow thoughts to flow through us, creating space for healthier reaction and less stress. 

Our bodies and minds have been conditioned over thousands of years to respond to to our environment by scanning for danger or risk. The result is a response that we sometimes feel viscerally – perhaps lightheadedness, sweaty palms, or more acutely through a reactive or harmful reaction to a rush of adrenaline.

Often, we aren’t able to respond skillfully to what is presenting itself. Even just being in the workplace can heighten our reactivity! For others, the challenge may be more acute – an illness, pain, or other reality.Mindfulness is often called a ‘practice’.

For the majority of us, with practice, we can learn to uncover our inherent ability to be present; not ruminating about the past or projecting into the future. We can train our minds to accept and be with what is happening in and around us, and create a gap or space to really ‘be with’ ourselves and the unfolding reality.

For many of us, this new skill can open a path for more skillful decision making, less stress, heightened creativity, and a healthier body.

The good and practical news is that  mindfulness can help us ‘down regulate’ our stress response. Science has proven that even small doses of mindfulness practice can actually rewire how our brains respond.

In fact, for example, research shows that the part of our brain that regulates our reaction to stress (the amygdala) actually changes in shape and size.

(Curious about the science? Check out the resources page)

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But, mindfulness is so much more than stress reduction…

By offering us a means to be more present with our experience, mindfulness provides a gateway to deeper understanding of ourselves, others, and our interconnectedness and often, deeper compassion and kindness for ourselves and others.

 

The growing trend of mindfulness in the workplace is now widely reported on in major business media such as NY Times, WSJ, Harvard Business Review, etc.

Across North America and around the world, from Google to General Mills, and throughout Silicon Valley, an approach to mindfulness has been embraced as a powerful means to accessing greater presence, connectedness, clarity, and meaning at work. 

In many parts of the world  ‘mindfulness at work’ has gone mainstream and is credited with improved productivity, creativity, wellness and morale.

 

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