Mindfulness in Action
By now most of us have heard the term mindfulness and how it has been proven to help reduce stress, anxiety, depression and chronic pain. But what is “mindfulness” and how can we utilize it in our daily lives and still be productive in our fast paced culture?
The father of mindfulness and creator of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, Jon Kabat-Zinn, defines mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Where did this word “mindfulness” come from? It is actually an English translation from the Pali word “sati” which means “to remember” or “to come back to”.
The practice of mindfulness can often be idealized for something that has to be quiet and centered in stillness, but this is not necessarily the case. Mindfulness is an action that has a natural flow to it acting as a thread of awakeness in our moment to moment experience. This act of awakening awareness can be accessed anywhere at any time. Mindfulness can be put into action right in the middle of our urban environment as we are talking, working, listening, walking, eating or even playing with our kids. It’s our ability to wholeheartedly be engaged in that which is right in front of us.
As we become more aware of the present moment we begin to see how mindfulness gently shifts us out of our normal, thought-based identity to make room for true generosity. We all know the wonderful feeling we get when we know somebody is wholeheartedly listening to us.
This awakened awareness and generosity can also be focused on ourselves also, providing us with time and space to soften and let go of our habit energies that don't serve us. By engaging in a mindfulness practice we can untie old knots of negativity and skillfully set new healthy intentions for ourselves.
Mindfulness practice is a wonderful way to help stay awake for this life, to break free from the small self of grasping and fearfulness to a place of interconnectedness and natural flow. This simple practice of awakened awareness helps us remember what is truly important and keeps us on our path. We practice not only for ourselves but we practice for our families, friends, colleagues and the world at large. This life is fleeting and we want to be awake for it all!
Teddi Dean is our Mindfulness teacher at MEA. He offers a fun practical approach to yoga, meditation and even surfing!