What do Emmy Award-winning Oprah Winfrey and the Navy’s Seal Team 6 have in common? Some say they both invest countless hours practicing a specific type of mindfulness. Have you heard of mindfulness? This is a concept that might be new to you or it might be a buzzword that you keep hearing. This is the first in a multi-part series diving deeper into the benefits of mindfulness. We will discuss ways you can use mindfulness to improve your mental health as well as your children.
People have a tendency to link mindfulness with meditation. When you meditate, this can be an impactful way to practice mindfulness, but there is so much more to mindfulness than meditation alone. No matter what you are doing, you can do it in a mindful way using three steps.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Some people call him the godfather of modern mindfulness. I look to him when sharing a definition of what mindfulness is.
“The awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”
You might be saying to yourself but what does that mean to me? The first part to think about is paying attention on purpose. Our lives are in constant motion. We try to multitask every day, but when do we ever stop and pay attention on purpose? We often forget to check in with ourselves. When you practice mindfulness, you are able to view life situations with the full awareness of your thoughts, emotions and actions. You see how one directly impacts the other. For me, paying attention on purpose allows me to see things that I’ve never seen before, to the benefit of myself and children under my care.
Being in the present moment means not thinking about what happened this morning, what you need to do this afternoon or what might happen tomorrow. When you practice mindfulness your goal is to be in the present moment. See how clear your focus is by giving all your attention to the present moment, now. Picture everything you see, everything you hear, smell, feel and taste. Appreciate the present moment because it is truly a once in a lifetime event.
It is in our nature to judge, whether that is ourselves or others. Some judgments help us, but others leave us feeling drained and exhausted. By being judgemental, you are missing out on all the information. Acknowledging this allows you a non-biased perspective. It is not until you practice this behavior that you can see how many immediate judgments you already made without knowing it. Mindfulness helps us to drop those automatic judgements and create new relationships with our inner thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness is being present in the moment, without judgement, and on purpose. Imagine a world where you can teach your children to live everyday for the rest of their lives being present in the moment, without judgement, and on purpose. Allow yourself to be open to the benefits this practice yields. In this multi-part series you will continue to discover how mindfulness can impact physical and mental health. This is just the beginning of a conversation on mindfulness. Be sure to check out part two in the next issue of Owensboro Parent!