There is a growing body of research for the practice of mindfulness and the use of meditation to enhance overall well-being and health. You have probably heard of mindfulness, but how much do we really understand or practice this day to day?
Mindfulness is the action of paying attention to what is happening in the present moment without overly reacting, analyzing, or judging. Most of our distress lives in this "past or future thinking". When we slow down enough to recognize the present moment, there is a calming effect. We can recognize in the present moment that we are safe; that we are enough; and, that we have time to make the next right action.
John Kabot-Zinn is an author and leading educator on mindfulness in American mainstream. He developed the program Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and lectures on mindfulness around the country. In a recent lecture I watched, Kabot-Zinn showed the calligraphy for the word mindfulness (shown here on the blog). He points out the character is composed of two ideograms. The top symbol means “presence” and the bottom symbol means “heart”. So, he points out that a true understanding of mindfulness is that it is “presence of heart”. I love this definition! We are practicing mindfulness to have a presence of our heart. When we are mindful, we are able to distance ourselves from the running narrative in our head of past and future worries. When we are mindful, we are able to detach from judgements or attachment to outcomes. When we are mindful, we are aligned with the energy of the heart.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness including mindful eating, mindful walking – basically doing any daily task with a “presence of heart” and an intention to connect the present moment. Meditation is the formal practice of just paying attention in a systematic way, which can increase our ability to maintain mindfulness in everyday life. Meditation can as simple as sitting still for a couple minutes and focusing on the sensation of your breath.
An easy way to get comfortable and acquainted with meditation is through the use of apps. Below I have included a list by age of some of my favorite meditation apps and programs. There are many other options out there, so you can also do some exploring for yourself. You are never too young or old to get started with meditation. So, grab your phone, tablet, or computer and try one of these out today!
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