Prepared by Kay Davidson, PhD, and Philip Davidson, PhD
Mindfulness is a set of practices that leads to being more awake in and for your life. It is most often defined as “paying attention, on purpose, without judgment, to what is happening in the moment.” In other words, when mindful, we are noticing both our internal, subjective experience (thoughts, feelings, sensations) as well as our objective, external circumstancesundefinedand we notice them just asthey areundefinedfree of embellishments, opinions and stories.
Here is a story that offers an applied description of Mindfulness: Children, eight to ten years old, were taught mindfulness meditation for eight weeks. At the end, one ten-year-old boy was asked, “What is different for you now?” He responded, “Before mindfulness, I used to beat up my little sister two or three times a week, just because she was there. The last time I started to hit here, I stopped and thought, ‘Why would I do that?’ and decided not to hit her.”
As we learn this way of being with our experience, we begin to see how entangled we can become in old patterns and in unhelpful but well-conditioned viewpoints (especially about ourselves!). And within this growing awareness, we free ourselves from these patterns and stories that are no longer useful.
The research on the benefits of a mindfulness practice consistently demonstrates its effectiveness inreducing stress, in alleviating physical pain, in improving many medical conditions and in becoming kinder toward self and others. By discovering a new way of being with uncomfortable sensations, thoughts, and emotions, there opens a doorway to healing.
There’s more. Mindfulness has also been validated as a powerful resource for developing a clear mind, a more compassionate heart, and a greater sense of well-being.
An essential practice of Mindfulness is meditation, being silent for a defined time period while concentrating on the breath or just noticing whatever comes up. Other Mindfulness practices are:
- Taking time each day to be explicitly grateful for whatever is present in your life
- Helping others from a place of generosity can be of value
- Connecting us with our innate capacity for kindness for ourselves and others
Easily doable in daily life, we can just stop from time to time and notice our thoughts, emotions, physical sensationsundefinedwithout judgment, simply accepting them as they are in that moment. This practice helps build our awareness ‘muscle.’
The Chrysalis Perspective
Chrysalis Institute views Mindfulness as a core spiritual practice. Whether you are following your own spiritual growth path or are active in a spiritual or religious community, Mindfulness can be of great benefit in enhancing your spirituality. Even if you are just looking for some relief from the stress of daily life, it can be helpful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tara Brach | True Refuge | Bantam, 2013
Jack Kornfield | A Path With Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life |Bantam, 1993
Tim Ryan | A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit | Hay House, 2012
Chade-Meng Tan | Search Inside Yourself | Harpercollins, 2012