“Waking up to our lives in every moment requires considerable intention and effort. It is a lifelong endeavor that we undertake for ourselves, and then share with others.” Christopher Germer, 2005
Mindfulness is the capacity to be aware of what is happening in the present moment with a quality of attention that is curious, open and accepting.
- using the five senses to directly experience this moment. Instead of struggling to stay in the present, simply bringing yourself back whenever necessary and consciously engaging with whatever is happening, whether pleasant or unpleasant.
- recognizing that thoughts are just thoughts. They may or may not be true.
- making space for even the most intense thoughts and feelings with nonjudgmental awareness. This means being open to internal experience, not necessarily liking or wanting what is happening. It means embracing thoughts and feelings as they are by letting them come and go without struggling against them or attempting to control or change them.
- connecting with the observing self, with the part of you that can see the world clearly, as it is. This means letting go of rigid concepts of how the mind interprets the world.
When taking action in new directions, it is natural for difficult thoughts and anxious feelings to arise. Mindfulness skills help decrease the struggle with disturbing thoughts and feelings even though the frequency, or even intensity might not change. In this way, thoughts and feelings have less impact.
Meditation is one way to learn mindfulness skills. Many people also start with shorter awareness exercises. Making a commitment to practice meditation on a regular basis will greatly enhance and deepen your ability to bring mindfulness into your life in a meaningful way.
TED X Cambridge – Sara Lazar on How Meditation Can Change Your Brain
Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness:
Shauna Shapiro talks about mindfulness practice as “resting in natural awareness”.