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Mindfulness

Students meditating on the quad.According to expert Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is the awareness that comes from “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” The capacity for mindfulness is built during the practice of meditation. During meditation, we place our attention on an object of focus, such as our breath. When our mind begins to wander (as it often will), we notice it and then bring our attention back to our breath. It’s during this process of focus – wandering – noticing – refocus that you are building your mindfulness “muscle.”

With regular meditation practice, you will find that you become more aware and present (or more mindful) in many areas of your life. Evidence demonstrates that practicing mindfulness meditation can lead to many beneficial outcomes, such as reduced anxiety and stress, improved attention, a stronger immune system, less emotional reactivity, improved communication, and a general sense of well-being.

Five mindfulness myths

Good news…everyone has a really active mind!  Our mind is built to think. Meditation is not a practice to cease all thoughts. Instead, it’s about knowing what’s on your mind and having a better relationship with what you find there. Picture your mind as a river. Sometimes it’s calm, and sometimes it’s raging. But it’s always moving. Your mind is always thinking thoughts, just like the river never actually stops flowing. When you meditate, it’s like sitting on the bank of the river, watching the water flow by.

The techniques can be as simple as focusing on the breath or the sounds around you. One reason why meditation may seem difficult is that we often try too hard to concentrate, are overly attached to results, or are not sure we are doing it right. Learning meditation from a qualified teacher is the best way to ensure that the process is enjoyable and you get the most from your practice.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when thinking that you have to add one more thing to your day. However, if you make meditation a priority, you will do it. You can even schedule a block of time on your calendar like you would any other important meeting you wouldn’t skip. Keep in mind that even just a few minutes of meditation is better than none. Try not to talk yourself out of meditating because it’s a bit late or you feel too sleepy. It’s strange, but many people report that when they spend time meditating regularly, they actually feel like they have more time in their day and can accomplish more while doing less. (Source: Chopra.com)

Actually, mindfulness is proven to make you more resilient, focused, centered, and motivated. With the practice of mindfulness, you may also find that things that often hinder your success, such as repetitive thought patterns and difficult emotions, will not make you stumble as much, leaving more space for you to pursue your goals.

While the roots of mindfulness come from Buddhism, and you’ll find meditative practices built within many of the world’s religions, the practice of mindfulness is secular. We invite all members of our community to practice mindfulness meditation, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Resources

We’ve gathered our most favorite mindfulness meditation resources here for you. Using a meditation app is a great way to get started with your practice. All have free content to access, as well as affordable annual memberships if you’d like even more choices. You’ll also find a list of introductory books on living mindfully (all available at Rush Rhees Library on the River Campus after September 2019) as well as video and audio resources.

All of the below books are available at Rush Rhees Library.

For other mindfulness books available at Rush Rhees, you can check out our list here.

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