Practicing Mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness simply means a state of active awareness and an open attention on the present. The term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of some Buddhist traditions. You can practice mindfulness anywhere at any time.  This is done by focusing on what is occurring the very moment you are observing it.  In nature this may mean breathing in the smell of the air, listening to the sounds of nature, noticing the shape of the trees and taking in how this makes you feel.  I love to practice mindfulness by looking at my son Aubrey’s face.  I cannot help but to feel filled with gratitude when I look in to his eyes and see their sparkle.

The practice of mindfulness is strongly associated with greater well-being and perception of health. Mindfulness has been shown to improve well-being by increasing life satisfaction and savor life’s pleasure.  Other physical health benefits include stress reduction, lowing blood pressure, and a reduction in chronic pain and improvement in your sleep.

As quoted by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book Full Catastrophe Living; Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, “Life only unfolds in moments. The healing power of mindfulness lies in living each of those moments as fully as we can, acception it as it is as we open to what comes next-in the next moment of now.”

There are endless ways to practice mindfulness, but an excellent way to begin your practice is to be mindful while in the shower. This is a good time to be mindful because you are disconnected from most stimulation including electronics.  Bring your full and non-judgmental attention to the way the water feels, the sound of the water, the smells of the soaps and the way your skin feels when it is washed.  Be in the moment and tell yourself “this is happening to me right now”.   Get out of your head and experience what is happening in the now.

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book on Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness