Mind-FULL-ness Practice – 101

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Mind-FULL-ness Practice – 101

“Problems can’t be solved with the same level of awareness that created them. ” ~ A. Einstein

What is a Mindfulness Practice ?

A Simple way of looking at a mindfulness practice is cultivating the capacity to be present –learning to be aware of the present experience with acceptance.

Three ingredients of mindfulness practice:

  • Awareness. Being an observer in the present moment. Observing and taking a look at what’s happening and how we’re taking a look at what’s happening.
  • Attention. Remembering to Notice, or place our attention on what is happening.
  • Acceptance. Being non-judgmental.
  • The most important part of all of these ingredients is remembering— remembering to be aware, pay attention and to be accepting of what is happening in the present moment. Sounds so simple. Once we become aware that we’ve stopped paying attention and put forth the intention to start paying attention again, we are being mindful.

    For me Acceptance is often the ingredient that gets left out. It’s like baking a cake and forgetting the sugar. It changes everything. Imagine for a moment being aware of the present moment and judging what is happening. Now take away the judging. It’s not easy to do. It’s very challenging for our brains to notice and not evaluate. And while evaluation is important in life, it is when we do it without awareness that we have “problems”. This is what we need to learn what not to do.

    Why is mindfulness important?

    We all have everyday mindlessness. The mind is constantly leaving the present and going off to other things. When you last drove to work, how much were you paying attention to your experience? We’re perfectly capable of not paying attention or noticing what is happening in our present experience. When we observe everyday mindlessness, we realize our minds are rarely present.

    When we are in mindlessness, we are further away from our authentic self. This is the part that underlies our thoughts, reactions of who we think we are — to a deeper, richer self that is not bound by limiting beliefs.

    The following are two important facts about the brain:

  • Our brains are wired toward the “thinking disease” — For survival purposes, our brains have a negative bias. The reason is based in our evolutionary past; it’s part of our genetic code. Simply put, we have more to lose by not paying attention to the negative, than from paying attention to the positive. And yet, in our modern world this does not work so well. The constant narratives of the stories we tell ourselves is the heart of suffering. We are constantly analyzing and out of all of the things we think, what most often sticks in our minds is the bad stuff.
  • Our brains can change and develop based on our experience: “Experience-dependent neuroplasticity”. This happens for the better or worse. For example, if we keep thinking we’re not enough and have to work harder to be important and worthwhile, the more we grow pathways which shape our brain to continue to use those pathways. Conversely, our brains are shaped in positive directions with learning to relax, breathe and be in the moment. Essentially as we can shape our brains with our thoughts and practices, we can change our brains for the better with a mindfulness practice.

  • You can conceptualize a mindfulness practice on a continuum

  • Informal practice: adjusting our attitude during the day so that we focus our attention differently. You can begin to be more mindfully engaged in your life by learning to observe and be present with awareness in your activities, thoughts, emotions, etc. For example, you may want to identify a mindfulness practice that you can use on a regular basis to help you to remember to be present to current awareness with acceptance. Some activities that I use are: unloading the dishwasher, sitting at traffic lights, waiting in line, bringing in groceries from the car.
  • Formal Practice: This is like going to the gym for a workout or a class. You can have a mindfulness meditation practice in your daily life. Here is a brief mindfulness practice that can get you started.
  • Intensive Practice: This is an intensive sitting experience for many hours, days, weeks and perhaps months of dedication to the practice.There are retreat centers and other organizations that provide these opportunities to expand your practice.

  • Click here for Mindfulness Practice

    If the practice is just like going to the gym or working out — The more time and energy we put into the practice, the more awareness we receive. This is huge, as we are often poor observers of ourselves and habitually get lulled into automatic reactions and responses to life and living that keep us stuck and/or hurting. It is only with awareness, attention and acceptance — the foundation, that we can begin a meaningful way to embody the life that we want to live.

    Take a moment and think of a place that you can either begin or expand your practice. Make a commitment to yourself to deepen your awareness of current experience with acceptance by making this a part of daily routine — whether it is a 5 minute practice in the morning, practicing mindful awareness as you drink your tea, or sign up for a class. And then, just sit back and notice what starts to cook in you.


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