Mindfulness for the people: Or, how to be present and get on with your life
If you sniff around and read articles on the internet (like I tend to do), you will have become familiar with the term mindfulness. Today is busy, so this blog post will be a little shorter. However, I would like to start off by defining mindfulness very briefly.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness expert and developer of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), mindfulness is defined as the following:
“…mindfulness means being paying attention, in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally.”
This is of course, one of many definitions of mindfulness. All definitions have in common the idea of being present. I am not a mindfulness nor a meditation expert, so I will save some time and space and not elaborate on the various mindfulness traditions or on meditation too much in this piece. What I would like to do, however, is to briefly discuss a recent article I came across which for me, in both my personal practice and in the way I approach working with clients has big time ramifications for what is possible when we respect the small moments we have throughout our days, stay with them, honor them, yet continue to approach them with gentleness and care.
In an article published in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (Morgan, Graham, Hayes-Skelton, Orsillo, and Roemer, 2014), researchers found that individuals who received treatment for anxiety-related symptoms 12-months after receiving treatment reported the benefits of informal mindfulness practice with regards to anxiety, worry, and overall quality of life were significant even as long as 12 months after the treatment sessions had ended.
So, why should you care?
What this could mean for all of you who are working long days with children and family obligations, for all of you who because of the nature of how your suffering is currently manifesting itself in your life or because of previous trauma-related experiences have a difficult time tolerating meditation or other formal mindfulness-based practices, can still benefit from finding ways to implement mindfulness in your day-to-day life. I have a hunch that this could look like many things to many different people and will be informed by your gender, ethnicity, culture, and where you find yourself situated in your relationships and with society more generally.
So, I will end this brief blog to invite you to explore this question:
In what ways, in which contexts, are you willing, even just a little bit, to pay more attention to what you are doing, what you are feeling, and the story you are telling yourself in the moment?
Is it while washing your hair?
Is it while dressing your children for school?
Is it while having conversations with coworkers?
Is it during your early morning run or (if you’re a real beast) Happy Hour lifting session?
Is it while connecting with your loved ones over the telephone, or over email?
Explore these many options and come up with some on your own. We are all creative and resilient, and all of us are capable of greater empowerment towards meaningful living, by staying present in ways that work for us.:)
Morgan, L. P. K., Graham, J. R., Hayes-Skelton, S. A., Orsillo, S. M., & Roemer, L. (2014). Relationships between amount of post-intervention mindfulness practice and follow-up outcome variables in an acceptance-based behavior therapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: The importance of informal practice. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 3(3), 173–178. doi:10.1016/j.jcbs.2014.05.001
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