What does it mean to be mindful?

I have gotten this question about mindfulness many times, so I thought I would address it within a post. Mindfulness can come from many forms and many angles. Thus we must approach it for what it is in both foresight and hindsight. Mindfulness practice originated in the eastern orient traditions and was used to enhance the availability of sight within the environment to improve the presence of the person in whatever they were doing or not doing. That is why often if you refer to books written in that time you can see that kind of language used. However, in reality, the practice is not limited by any religious doctrine at all.

 Jon Kabat Zinn, a Professor of Medicine Emeritus and a creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He was able to use the practice to help thousands of individuals in a clinical setting get in touch with what is happening in their lives versus what is interpreted by the individual. He coined the phrase Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction due to many tests on the efficiency of using standardized methodologies to reduce the stress load on individuals that have experienced increased stress in their lives.

The question often becomes, "Why do mindfulness and stress always have to be interlocked? The simplicity of the practice of mindfulness is to be one with your environment, action or inaction. Being present means that the body doesn't go through uncontrolled stress responses thus the body can relax into a more flowing mode of being. That, in fact, is the opposite of a stress response. In which the kidneys, liver, spleen, and digestive system as well as the cardiac system kick into gear to avoid, evade or get out.

I come from the approach of combing both the science-based methodologies and the traditional outlook. That is because they both have a high validity in what modern life has become. We must see things for what they are and have a way of getting back to the basics of being and doing. Life has now come to us with multiple stressors including light and electronic frequencies which disturb our biology. While the body can find homeostasis, often there are high correlations between stress and the disease processes growing considerably in society, especially in the western nations.

We need to be able to take time to find our presence and center in the midst of the constant bombardment. That is where I usually am sought out. Practices and methodologies to help you live a better quality of life are available, but often we need to learn to tap into those reserves profoundly and sincerely. We are amazing creatures, but we are even more amazing at being indoctrinated to be what society wants versus what we want to be within ourselves. We take stress upon stress, and when we burn out, we never see the train coming before the crash.

Many use physical practice to tap into a more profound state of being, others have meditation, and others even use substances to cut the chord. All have valid uses and drawbacks. The simplicity of mindfulness is that it can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone. The challenge is always the application of being purely in the moment with true vision.

Here's a sample practice to be in the moment right now. Find a place to look at. It could be a dot on the wall or an object out in the distance. See the object for what it is and while focusing in on that object begin to draw your vision back towards you. Start to notice the objects around the object until you reach awareness of the view reaching you. Try it a few times with calm, steady breathing. That is the beginning of mindfulness in practice. When you can do that you can apply that simple principle to many other things in your life and you can then begin to live a more mindful life.

I'll speak with you soon,


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