“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness is a frame of mind, or focus, that can quickly create a state of relaxation with many proven benefits. It’s a powerful practice, best performed daily.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, author and professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, is credited as the person who brought mindfulness to the mainstream world, using techniques he learned when studying Buddhism. As a medical scientist, he brings a scientific context to meditation and mindfulness. Seeing positive results in patients, he created the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program and the Centre of Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society. What he refers to as “moment-to-moment awareness” helps people cope with stress, pain, and illness.
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” says Kabat-Zinn. In practice, it means maintaining a minute-by-minute awareness of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and how you’re experiencing your environment—all without judgment.
The state of relaxation created through mindfulness is potent. According to a study reported in Perspectives on Psychological Science, the benefits fall into four basic categories—body awareness, self-awareness, regulation of emotion, and regulation of attention.
Specifically, these include:
• Higher brain functioning
• Increased immune functioning
• Lower blood pressure and heart rate
• Improved attention and focus
• Reduced anxiety
• Reduced stress, and lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol
• Reduced pain
Dr. Amit Sood, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and chair of the Mayo Mind Body Initiative is a strong supporter of daily mindfulness and meditation. So much so, in fact, that he created a weekly template of values to help mix things up.
Dr. Sood’s Weekly Values Template:
Monday Gratitude Look for things to be thankful for.
Tuesday Compassion Set an intention to decrease pain or suffering in others.
Wednesday Acceptance Accept and appreciate yourself and others as they are.
Thursday Meaning and Purpose Think about your purpose in life, and where you find meaning.
Friday Forgiveness Forgive yourself, and forgive others.
Saturday Celebration Celebrate the joy in your life and those close to you.
Sunday Reflection Reflect on your day, month, or year.