309: What is Mindfulness?

Mindufulness is a buzz word used over and over today but are you really sure what it means or how to apply it?
Mindfulness is both an attitude and technique. An attitude that we can bring to our everyday life and a series of techniques to reinforce and practice with. Jon Kabbat-Zinn defines it as this,

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

It is a little different to just being aware of something. You can be aware you are doing something but not be fully involved in every aspect of that process. For example, you can be aware that you are eating but are you aware of how the food got to your plate, the colours and textures, the tastes and sounds?

Mindfulness helps us develop a certain way of seeing the world without prejudice and preference.
We all have a very strong desire for things to be a certain way. We want in our life pleasure, praise, recognition and gain. We don’t want pain, blame, disgrace and loss do we? So we try to encourage the first set of conditions and do what we can to push away the second set.

The problem with this is that we are trying to arrange our external conditions, or the ingredients, rather than the recipe.

We all have each of these elements in our life. We experience loss, we become ill, someone criticises us or tells us off. We can’t really push these things away.
What mindfulness training does is allow us to encompass each experience as it is without judgement or prejudice. We can see, experience or explore something that we don’t like without adding a string of conditioned behaviour to that situation. Left to itself an untrained mind will indulge in emotions like anger, fear, resentment. Each time we allow the mind to do this then we reinforce the behaviour/reaction/judgement.

Learning mindfulness techniques will help you to see that your conditioning and reactions are merely that, conditioning and reacting and we do in fact have a choice of how to behave in the good and bad situations. We can become less reactive and just observe something as merely happening without judging it on our future expectations or your past stories.

Practice for today: Try one mindfulness act with your next meal.As you eat, taste,feel and see what you are consuming. As you mind wanders to your next item on your to do list, gently draw it back to what you are doing.

kabat-zinn-255x281Further reading: Jon Kabbat-Zin Mindfulness for beginners.

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