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Health & Wellness Corner

Over the past few years, the idea of mindfulness has rapidly been on the rise. Most of us have some sense of what this means, some are masters at this practice and still others might be completely unaware. Mindfulness is often used in a variety of contexts.  Since this is the case, I am often asked as to what exactly is this “mindfulness”.  Mindfulness can be defined in a variety of definitions.  I like Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition best as it’s simple and concise, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”


There are multiple applications for mindfulness.  I love the simple idea of using it to be more focused and present on a day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute basis.  We live in a world that is so fast paced.  We are constantly distracted by our electronics, pulled in multiple directions and rewarded to produce more, at the same time, and as fast as we can.  Mindfulness works to help us engage in what is in front of us and take in our environment through all of our senses.  When we are mindful, we are observing and attending to what is happening moment to moment without judgment.


It can be helpful to breakdown mindfulness into formal and informal mindfulness practice.


Formal and Informal mindfulness practice:

Formal mindfulness practices include breath awareness, body scan, mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful yoga or stretching, sound awareness, thought awareness, lovingkindness and seated awareness. This is the core of what you do both in class and as homework in an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program. These practices have been critical to deepening the habits of mindfulness for me. Sometimes there are magical moments where I feel I sink into the still core of my being and remember a deep truth there. It is centering, humbling and often leaves me feeling less fragmented.

Informal mindfulness is paying attention on purpose in the present moment without judging something that is happening in everyday life. Learning to breathe and not get triggered during a disagreement, getting undermined at work, or supporting someone else who is suffering are some clear times for this. Informal mindfulness may be as simple as being “in the zone” while exercising, being fully present while brushing teeth, chopping vegetables, washing the car, completing a task at work… or listening to another person fully and completely, without planning what to say next or whether what they are saying rings true for you or not.

Some of the many benefits of practicing regular mindfulness techniques are reduced anxiety and depression symptoms, better sleep, improved clarity and concentration, self-control and emotional intelligence.

This is a very basic introduction of what mindfulness is and just a hint of the benefits that are derived from regular practice!  To learn more, please contact Angela Solis, LCPC, CADC, Crossroads Counseling Services, LLC.