Mind Full or Mindful?

There is a lot of talk and "buzz" about mindfulness these days.  The word seems to have slipped into common everday language...but what does it really mean?

Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, defines mindfulness as "the awareness that arises from paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally".

Simple, right?  Except that when we pay attention to how much we pay attention, we realize that we're not really paying attention at all.  We quickly notice that the quality of our attention is often poor, unfocused and difficult to sustain.  It is also common to notice that most of our thoughts are in the past or future (not the present) and that we're judging everything almost constantly. All of this is normal and yet it can greatly colour our experiences and affect the way we see and relate to the world.

As a practiioner of meditation, I regularily share ideas and resources on mindfulness with my patients.  If you haven't seen it yet, click here to review a page I created on our webiste that is dedicated to mindfulness resources (books, websites, research, etc).

I've also read two articles over the past month that I think are excellent, and both come from wonderful resources called Mindful Magazine and Sounds True.

The first is called "Feeling overwhelmed? Remember R.A.I.N"  and is written by one of my favourite teachers, Tara Brach.  The article is well worth reading and the acronym she explores is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness:

  • Recognize what is going on;
  • Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
  • Investigate with kindness;
  • Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying
    with the experience.

The second article is written by the founder of Sounds True and is called "Becoming a Person".   She beautifully reflects on her need and drive to make "a big splash" and the conscious shift "to experimenting with dropping all need for specialness...by relaxing into being one of six plus billion people and simply being “one of us.”.  

I notice a subtle but profound difference in how it feels in my body and heart when I relax into being a 'human be-ing' rather than a 'human do-er'.  I really appreciate Tami's honesty and sharing about her journey in discovering this within herself.

These gorgeous summer days are long and full of beauty. Wishing you some moments of enjoying prescence and being mindful (vs mind full!).

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