The Still Place Within; Pause and Breathing
Current life can be fast paced. There are so many opportunities for our attention being taken away from what we are doing in the moment. Distractions abound. Stresses are relentless. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information that comes our way.
One practice that counteracts the intensity of living in the 21st Century and has a growing base of research to support its benefits is mindfulness meditation. Jon Kabat Zinn, early researcher in the area of mindfulness based stress reduction defines mindfulness as “The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”
One of the most powerful approaches to mindfulness is simply allowing your attention to shift from whatever you’re doing to your breath. This sounds very simple, but notice what happens when you do that. Your mind tends to jump all over the place. Suddenly your to do list becomes front and center or unfinished work or what to have for dinner that night. This is normal. Gradually you can shift your thoughts over and over to your breath and gain a sense of calm. Your mind may not ever stop completely but having the intention to focus on your breathing can bring many positive benefits..
The benefits of having a mindfulness practice, simply counting ten breaths, pausing to notice what is around you, having appreciation for what you do have in your life or walking with awareness are many – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Having a mindfulness practice, even for very short periods of time, is like brushing your teeth daily. Doing so can prevent the unhealthy build up of stress and give you the ability to function better in your daily lives.
Here are two links to really good information on the what, why, how and how to of mindfulness in your life. It’s as easy as paying attention to what you are doing in the here and now.
Key to Effective Mindfulness
The key to a mindfulness practice is to treat it like learning any new skill. Practice once or twice daily starting with five to ten minutes and working up to twenty minutes daily and do this over several weeks to see the benefits. You might even take a course to help your practice.
Just like learning to play the piano or a sport, you could not do it well the first time. It took practice over days, months, years to become good at it. Mindfulness is a learned skill something you can become good at with daily, consistent practice.