Being Mindfulness

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Life has its ups and downs but its how you deal with them that make all the difference. Friends will come and go. It can be a hard thing to accept, but the people you spend time with now may not be around you tomorrow.

There are so many amazing people in this world for you to meet and build relationships. You won’t always get what you want. People are going to be late. They will let you down. Things that you want won’t always be available.

Don’t look for happiness in material possessions, and if things don’t go your way learn to accept them. Life’s too short to stay miserable. Some people may love you and some may not. There are many possible reasons such as jealousy, similarities between you, or maybe you just don’t hit it well with the other person. It’s his problem to deal with and not yours. You are perfect the way you are and you certainly don’t need their approval for self-esteem, let them take the charge.

Nobody can transform your life-like you can. The support and help of others can only take you to one point and from there you have to walk all alone. You have to work really hard to make it happen.

Do things for yourself and learn to stand on your own. People you rely on won’t be around forever and you don’t want to have to depend on others to get through in life. You can learn a lot from others but it’s your own failures that you will learn valuable lessons from. Learn from your failures. Don’t stress over things that you have no control. Learn to live with things that happen. Make the most of each day. Make sure the people who you care most about really know how much you love them. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Spend time with the people you love and doing the things you love. Someone will always have more. There will always be areas where people have more than you. Just because they have more doesn’t always mean they’re happy.

It’s a busy world. You fold the laundry while keeping one eye on the kids and another on the television. You plan your day while listening to the radio and commuting to work, and then plan your weekend. But in the rush to accomplish necessary tasks, you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment, missing out on what you’re doing and how you’re feeling.

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness.

The cultivation of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, but most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life.

Professor emeritus Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, helped to bring the practice of mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine and demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health attitudes and behaviors.

Mindfulness improves well being by increasing your capacity. It supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life. Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.

By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.

Mindfulness improves physical health, if greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered the benefits of mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. Mindfulness can:

  • help relieve stress
  • treat heart disease
  • lower blood pressure
  • reduce chronic pain
  • improve sleep
  • alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties
  • improves mental health

In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including:

  • depression
  • substance abuse
  • eating disorders
  • couples’ conflicts
  • anxiety disorders
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder

Some experts believe that mindfulness works, in part, by helping people to accept their experiences, including painful emotions rather than react to them with aversion and avoidance.

It’s become increasingly common for mindfulness meditation to be combined with psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy. This development makes good sense, since both meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy share the common goal of helping people gain perspective on irrational, manipulative, and self-defeating thoughts.

There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This allows the mind to refocus on the present moment. All mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation.

Basic mindfulness meditation involves, sitting quietly and focusing on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.

Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.

Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Name them “sight,” “sound,” “smell,” “taste,” or “touch” without judgment and let them go.

Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.” Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.

Cope with cravings (for addictive substances or behaviors) and allow them to pass. Notice how your body feels as the craving enters. Replace the wish for the craving to go away with the certain knowledge that it will subside.

Mindfulness can be cultivated through mindfulness meditation, a systematic method of focusing your attention. You can learn to meditate on your own, following instructions in books or on tape. However, you may benefit from the support of an instructor or group to answer questions and help you stay motivated. Look for someone using meditation in a way compatible with your beliefs and goals.

If you have a medical condition, you may prefer a medically oriented program that incorporates meditation. Ask your physician or hospital about local groups. Insurance companies increasingly cover the cost of meditation instruction.

Some types of meditation primarily involve concentration, repeating a phrase or focusing on the sensation of breathing, allowing the parade of thoughts that inevitably arise to come and go. Concentration meditation techniques, as well as other activities such as tai chi or yoga, can induce the well-known relaxation response, which is very valuable in reducing the body’s response to stress.

Mindfulness meditation builds upon concentration practices. In mindfulness meditation, once you establish concentration, you observe the flow of inner thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without judging them as good or bad.

You also notice external sensations such as sounds, sights, and touch that make up your moment-to-moment experience. The challenge is not to latch onto a particular idea, emotion, or sensation, or to get caught in thinking about the past or the future. Instead you watch what comes and goes in your mind, and discover which mental habits produce a feeling of well-being or suffering.

At times, this process may not seem relaxing at all, but over time it provides a key to greater happiness and self-awareness as you become comfortable with a wider and wider range of your experiences.

Above all, mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever arises in your awareness at each moment. It involves being kind and forgiving toward yourself.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Gently redirect. If your mind wanders into planning, daydream, or criticism, notice where it has gone and gently redirect it to sensations in the present.
  • Try and try again. If you miss your intended meditation session, you simply start again.

By practicing and accepting your experience during meditation, it becomes easier to accept whatever comes your way during the rest of your day.

In addition to formal meditation, you can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing your attention on your moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. This is done by single-tasking, doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. As you floss your teeth, pet the dog, or eat an apple, slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of your senses.

If mindfulness meditation appeals to you, going to a class or listening to a meditation tape can be a good way to start.


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