Mindfulness is becoming a very common word, but what is it? Psychology Today tells us that it is “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”
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Research is attributing a whole host of benefits that result from the regular practice of mindfulness, including stress relief, lower blood pressure, reduction of chronic pain, better sleep, fewer eating disorders and less substance abuse, for starters! There are many reasons that you may want to consider adding a mindfulness practice to your daily routine.
Meditation also can increase your happiness set-point, as Shauna Shapiro shares with us in this short video. Shauna Shapiro is an internationally recognized expert in mindfulness and an Associate Professor of Psychology at Santa Clara University. She is also a co-author of the book, along with Linda E. Carlson, The Art and Science of Mindfulness: Integrating Mindfulness into Psychology and the Helping Professions.
So the regular practice of mindfulness can change your brain in a positive way! As Shauna tells us above:
Although changing exterior circumstances does not change our “set” levels of happiness, changing our interior landscape, through training the mind, can.
There is not “a way” to practice mindfulness. You can do a simple breathing meditation where you focus on your breathing and then move out to awareness of other sounds and sensations going on around you. You could perform a body scan, where you methodically move your attention up your body, pausing to notice sensations in each area as you move up.
These are just a couple of suggestions for getting started – there are many books available to help you learn how to begin practicing mindfulness, using different methods to focus your attention. Once you learn the skills of mindfulness, you can begin to bring them into other parts of your life as well. Mindfulness walking, for example, can be an entirely different experience than simply walking without awareness.
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