Mindfulness, while similar to meditation, is not the same as meditation. Mindfulness is an intentional focus on awareness and presence. It has its origins in ancient and present Buddhism, yet today it is practiced throughout the world, bridging religions and cultures as a way of paying attention and being present. When we are being mindful or practicing mindfulness, we are living in the present moment. We are not judging people, things, or experiences as good or bad; rather, we are noticing the emotions and thoughts that come up, breathing into that awareness, and simply being aware of where we are choosing to focus our attention.
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founding director and professor of medicine emeritus at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He teaches mindfulness meditation all over the world, defining mindfulness as “the awareness that arises by paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” The more time we can spend in this experience and this awareness, the healthier our attitudes and the healthier our brains.
When we are mindful, we are conscious. We are living in the present moment rather than fearing what may lie ahead or regretting what has already happened. When we are awake and present, life doesn’t just pass us by – we become more actively engaged and life begins to align with our personal mission and vision.
Practicing presence can be realized by implementing positive daily rituals - a map quest to take you from stressed to blessed:
- Media fast from all the screens (TV, computer monitor, cell phone) in your life for an hour, day or longer.
- Meditate. Researchers share that this daily practice may be the most efficient and effective means to gain focus, self-control and presence.
- Just eat and eat well. Eating whole, chemical-free foods, in a quiet place and just eating or being with friends, allow you to be mindful and appreciative of what you put your mouth.
- Master single-tasking and let the other balls you are juggling fall.
- Before you go to bed turn presence into prayer by writing in your gratitude journal. Science says gratitude fosters high quality sleep and peace-filled presence.
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