"Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them - without believing, for instance, that there's a "right" or a "wrong" way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we are sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future."
- Greater Good Science Center at the University of Berkeley
mindfulness + the art of awarness
Mindfulness & Meditation: What is the difference?
Mindfulness and meditation both develop skills for focused attention, clarity, and relaxation of the mind and body. Meditation is one way to practice mindfulness. Meditation is a precise technique used to quiet the incessant stream of mental chatter and dialogue of the mind by focusing on the breath and connecting to the present moment. Mindfulness is a full awarness of what is occuring precisely in the moment. Mindfulness can be practiced formally using specific techniques or informally by paying close attention to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations of the mind and body. Both Meditation and Mindfulness are practices that look inward to gain a better understanding of the inner lanscape and workings of the mind and body. The goal of meditation is to go beyond the thinking mind and connect with our true peaceful essence. Deep meditation rests the mind and attains a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. Mindfulness uses beginner meditation techniques such as deep breathing and drawing awareness to the sensations of the body that connect us to the present moment and still the mind. As we learn how to activate deep breathing and practice one point of focus we connect to the NOW leaving behind worry and anxiety for the future and pain triggered by rehashing old dramas of the past. These practices activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is where the body rests. Due to our modern ways of life, we tend to live in a state of high alert which engages our sympathetic neverous system. Surges of cortisol, the body's stress hormone is released increasing the heart and pulse rate and keeping us in a fight or flight, stressful, reactive mode in this heightened state.
It is critical that we learn integrative mind body practices for our whole body health and quality of life. The only thing we can depend on in life is that change is a constant. To better prepare ourselves for the fluctuations that occur in life, we need to understand our inner world. We can not control life but we do have the power to control our response. In meeting life's challenges with grace and acceptance, we also open ourselves to the opportunity to find the lessons imbedded in the challenges so that we grow instead of suffer.
Contact Jenny for 60 minute presentations on Mindfulness for your group, school, or organization. Learn concrete ways to stay present. Eliminate stress and anxiety. Arm yourself with tools that maintain a state of connectiveness and balance. Engage your ability to stay grounded in peace and compassion when challenges arise to sustain mental, emotional, and physical health. Activate awareness in your life to create a ripple effect of positive action that originates from your inner peace. This is how we shift the world. Start tending to your inner world to grow your outer world for the better.
"Be the change that you wish to see in the world."
"By taking good care of the present moment, we take good care of the future."
Thich Naht Hanh
It is imperative for our health and well being to arm ourselves with the ability to understand the inner workings of the mind and body. School prepares us to use our thinking mind by developing analytical, perceptual, and critical skills to acquire knowledge. The ability to think rationally is important; however, it's crucial we learn tools to gain control of the thinking mind by integrating mind, body, and emotional awareness education to achieve life long skills for cultivating genuine peace and happiness.
The violence we are experiencing in schools, atrocities committed by children against children, widespread issues with substance abuse, and the rise of obesity and diabetes all stem from disconnection. The social cost of disconnection is devestating. Mindfulness practices connect us to our thoughts, feelings, and body, bringing us into the present moment. As a result of learning how to focus and practice awareness, we are capable of reducing stress, alliveating depression, decreasing violence, and minimizing the human tendency to numb feelings of discomfort with food, substances, and other detrimental compulsions and distractions.
The human mind has a mind of its own. The mental chatter that streams incessentantly is not only distracting but can also be emotionally charged causing us to feel stress for the future and pain from the past. When the mind engages in thoughts that cause anxiety our body can't tell the difference between meeting a deadline at school or a serious traffic accident. The body responds the same way triggering, the sympathetic nervous system. This is the body's ancient "fight or flight" reponse designed to keep us safe from danger. A surge of the stress hormone cortisol is released, increasing the heart and pulse rate, causing us to take rapid, shallow breaths, and sending us into high alert. Staying in this heightened state is unhealthy because an excess of cortisol coursing through the body makes us susceptible over time to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and chronic anxiety.
With advancements in technology and media, we live in a world frantically paced. So accustomed to being bombarded by all the ways we stay plugged in, we are unaware that we are living in a state of high alert. Learning Mindfulness prepares us to handle the pressures of modern life and meet challeges with peace. Whether it's a traffic jam, a trying person or situation, or the painful loss of a loved one, mindfulness practices keep us centered. We learn to live in the present moment by staying connected to our bodies and breath, acknowledging our thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they occur in real time. We train for life using these practices so that we may draw strength from the reservoir we have created allowing us to maintain emotional, mental, and physical balance in times of adversity.
Mindfulness education invites us to culitivate ways to sustain a state of peace and composure making us less reactionary to emotionally triggering events. Whether you are age 13 or 85, it is important to learn these practices to lead a meaningful life grounded in health, contentment, joy, and purpose.
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