Mindfulness For Dummies
Written by a professional mindfulness trainer, and packed with tips to incorporate this practice into your daily life, Mindfulness For Dummies, 2 nd Edition shows you how to reap the benefits of a more attentive life.
Mindfulness For Dummies
In This Chapter
Discovering the benefits of mindfulness
Exploring the journey of mindfulness
Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, infused with qualities like kindness, curiosity and acceptance.
Through being mindful, you discover how to live in the present moment in an enjoyable way rather than worrying about the past or being concerned about the future. The past has already gone and can't be changed. The future is yet to arrive and is completely unknown. The present moment, this very moment now, is ultimately the only moment you have. Mindfulness shows you how to live in this moment in a harmonious way. You find out how to make the present moment a more wonderful moment to be in - the only place in which you can create, decide, listen, think, smile, act or live.
You can develop and deepen mindfulness through doing mindfulness meditation on a daily basis, from a few minutes to as long as you want. This chapter introduces you to mindfulness and mindfulness meditation and welcomes you aboard a fascinating journey.
Understanding the Meaning of Mindfulness
Mindfulness was originally developed in ancient times, and can be found in Eastern and Western cultures. Mindfulness is a translation of the ancient Indian word Sati , which means awareness, attention and remembering:
Awareness. This is an aspect of being human that makes you conscious of your experiences. Without awareness, nothing would exist for you.
Attention. Attention is a focused awareness; mindfulness training develops your ability to move and sustain your attention wherever and however you choose.
Remembering. This aspect of mindfulness is about remembering to pay attention to your experience from moment to moment. Being mindful is easy to forget. The word 'remember' originally comes from the Latin re 'again' and memorari 'be mindful of'. Awareness from the heart
The Japanese character for mindfulness is illustrated below:
This Japanese character combines the words for 'mind' and 'heart' and beautifully captures the essence of mindfulness as not just awareness, but awareness from the heart.
Say that you want to practise mindfulness to help you cope with stress. At work, you think about your forthcoming presentation and begin to feel stressed and nervous. By becoming aware of this, you remember to focus your mindful attention to your own breathing rather than constantly worrying. Feeling your breath with a sense of warmth and gentleness helps slowly to calm you down. See Chapter 6 for more about mindful breathing.
Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, who first developed mindfulness in a therapeutic setting, says:
'Mindfulness can be cultivated by paying attention in a specific way, that is, in the present moment, and as non-reactively, non-judgementally and openheartedly as possible.'
You can break down the meaning even further:
Paying attention. To be mindful, you need to pay attention, whatever you choose to attend to.
Present moment. The reality of being in the here and now means you just need to be aware of the way things are, as they are now . Your experience is valid and correct just as it is.
Non-reactively. Normally, when you experience something, you automatically react to that experience according to your past conditioning. For example, if you think, 'I still haven't finished my work,' you react with thoughts, words and actions in some shape or form.
Mindfulness encourages you to respond to your experience rather than react to thoughts. A reaction is automatic and gives you no choice; a response is deliberate and considered acti