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Introduction to Mindfulness

What we are doing is simply lighting up the lamp of awareness to illuminate our breathing.  We generate the energy of mindfulness to illuminate everything that is happening in the present moment. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Well, let’s get down to business. 

Sit up as straight as possible.  Keep your feet flat on the floor.  If you prefer to close your eyes, you may, but keeping them open is just fine, too.  We are going to breathe for 60 seconds.  I want you to be conscious of your breath while you do.  As you inhale, think the word In and exhale with Out.  It’s fine if your mind drifts to other things, but try and wrangle it back by inhaling In and exhaling Out.

60 Seconds:

In

Out

 

You are already filled with mindfulness!  End the blog post!  I’m only kidding, but not about the mindfulness.

 

I’ve asked students over the years to decipher the meaning of “Mindfulness.”  Most often they answer with being “full of the mind.”  While this is an excellent guess, it sounds too much like “Ego.”  In my opinion, having a self-inflated, unrealistic vision of one’s self is contrary to Mindfulness.

 

I prefer the definition:  Mindfulness is observing the present moment and our thoughts without judgment.

 

With Mindfulness we view thoughts, emotions, and the present moment without attachment.  We address them for what they are, simply.  Observing the present moment is living in the now.  The past cannot be changed and the future is far too unpredictable for worry.  

 

Similar to [ In; Out ], we’ll now  practice the foundation of mindfulness: being aware of our breathing.  Wait…You ask me, “How can something so simple as breathing help?”  It is one of the most basic and beautiful systems of the human body.  Typically, we notice it only if there is a problem: only if there is difficulty breathing.  How often do you realize how well you are breathing on a particular day?  Not as often as we’d like, I am guessing.  

 

We can breathe in any position you’d like.  Even though the lotus position, is the ideal and most common stance, we can observe mindfulness at any time.  While at school, we can sit in any chair with our backs straight and feet flat.  Our hands can simply go onto our laps or on top of a desk.  Try consciously observing your breathing for 2 minutes with the following:

 

Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.

Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.

 

Mindful breathing is simple, yet extraordinary. [ In; Out ] is just as effective and maybe be ideal when time doesn’t permit longer breathing sessions.

 

Benefits of Mindfulness

  • Typical Stressors can be transformed into positive moments.
  • Mindfulness is known to reduce anxiety.
  • Coupled with other interventions and practices, some studies believe that it can treat and prevent depression.

Momentary happiness and peace is quite easily achieved with simple exercises.  Practice is need to see more lasting effects.  

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