About Mindfulness

MINDFULNESS AND MINDLESSNESS

In short, mindfulness is the quality of being both aware and accepting of what is going on in one’s moment-to-moment experience of life. This concept may sound simple – and it is – but it can be difficult to practice. People are usually surprised to learn that they are anything but aware of their moment-to-moment experience throughout the day. Often, we are lost in some form of thought while we do something else with our bodies, like walk down the street. I’ll call this lack of present-moment awareness “mindlessness.” Read full article »

HOW DOES ONE PRACTICE BEING MINDFUL?

Because of its portrayal in popular culture, many people assume that meditation means sitting cross-legged in a tranquil environment. Mindfulness meditation may be practiced this way, of course. It may also be practiced while sitting in a chair, walking, eating, tying your shoes, washing the dishes, playing tennis, attending a concert, or while doing any other activity. Mindfulness can even be practiced while interacting with other people – and even if the interaction is emotionally charged. Since mindfulness is a state of mind, it can be cultivated and provide benefits in all areas of daily life.

You can start meditating right now, too. Just click here.

IS THERE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE THAT MINDFULNESS IS HELPFUL?

In the 1980s, researchers began studying the effects of mindfulness practice in medical settings, for use in the reduction of stress and chronic pain. In recent years, there has been exponential growth in the amount of research being conducted, and much more is still needed. However, to date, studies have found correlations between mindfulness practice and the following physical, psychological, and emotional changes, to name a few:

Reduced

  • Stress
  • Emotional reactivity
  • Anxiety
  • Negative emotional feelings
  • Likelihood of relapse in substance addiction
  • Likelihood of relapse in major depression
  • Compulsive behavior

Improved

  • Relaxation
  • Sense of wellbeing
  • Subjective experience of chronic pain
  • Empathy and compassion toward others
  • Immune system response
 

The mounting evidence of the benefits of mindfulness practice has led to its expansion beyond medical and mental health applications. It is now increasingly accepted in mainstream society, including in schools and corporate America, including Fortune 500 companies such as Apple, General Mills, Google, and Target.

IS PRACTICING MINDFULNESS ALL I NEED TO DO?

Well, it depends upon your goals, and the amount of effort you are willing to make. As discussed above, research suggests that mindfulness alone can produce marked psychological, emotional, and physical changes for the better. If, for example, your goal is to be able to relax, feel less stressed out in your daily life, spend less time worrying, or relate better with others, then establishing an ongoing mindfulness practice will probably help you to achieve your goals.

However, cultivating mindfulness in your life can also be part of a larger effort to have a richer, more fulfilling life (and the same holds true for group and business environments). When mindfulness is integrated into your life and combined with other efforts such as deepening an intellectual understanding of the ways you create distress in your life, and attending to the social, physical, vocational, and ethical dimensions of it, then even greater transformation may take place. A mindfulness practice, as well as the practice of other types of meditation (in which I can provide guidance) can support the development of better, more compassionate attitudes toward yourself and others, a healthier lifestyle, meaningful engagement in the world. A life aligned with your truest selfyour Right LifeTM.

WHY SHOULD I TAKE YOUR WORD FOR ANYTHING?

My integration of mindfulness with psychotherapy and coaching services (and with some of my speaking and education engagements) is informed by my professional experience and training in mindfulness meditation and mental health and, whenever possible, the latest scientific research. Also, my personal practice and study over the past 20 years or so provide me with a base of experiential knowledge, and the opportunity to continue learning daily. Clients may find that certain formal and informal meditation techniques work better for them than others, and my extensive personal experience with mindfulness is advantageous in this regard: it enables me to personalize the guidance I provide, so that it acknowledges your individuality.

However, experiential learning is just as critical for the person new to mindfulness, because the potential benefits of mindfulness meditation may only be achieved through the practice and direct experience of it, not through an intellectual understanding only, and certainly not through blind faith in someone else’s ideas.

It is for this reason that, although I encourage my clients to give honest and sustained effort to mindfulness practice, I emphasize that none of my guidance is intended be taken on faith. On the contrary, your practice must ultimately flow from your own determination that it has merit in your life.

WHERE DOES MINDFULNESS COME FROM?

Mindfulness meditation has its origins in ancient Buddhist meditative techniques. Healthcare and mental healthcare professionals began employing it in secular settings in the 1980s in the US, and this more or less marked the beginning of scientific research into mindfulness. Since then, researchers’ interest in mindfulness has skyrocketed, and scientific evidence of its efficacy is becoming more compelling.

It is important to emphasize that, although mindfulness meditation derives from Buddhist teachings, there is nothing inherently religious about it. Qualities such as mindfulness, equanimity, and empathy occur naturally in humans. Mindfulness meditation is simply a tool for uncovering and cultivating these and other wholesome qualities by learning how to pay attention to our lives, and, by doing so, creating more peace and freedom in them. Many people find that mindfulness practice complements their other efforts to lead a healthy and happy life, regardless of what, if any, religious or spiritual beliefs they subscribe to.

©2013-2017 Jim Hjort

Right Life Project® and Right LifeTM are trademarks of Jim Hjort.