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The Value of Mindfulness
Posted: 6/27/2014 | Meditation Comments
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(Adapted from my multiple award-winning book, Your Ultimate Life Plan: How to Deeply Transform Your Everyday Experience and Create Changes That Last)

 “Mindfulness is an innate human capacity to deliberately pay
full attention to where we are, to our actual experience,
and to learn from it.”
  ~ Jack Kornfield

A traditional mindfulness practice teaches you
to watch whatever arises in your experience. It asks you to focus attention on the present moment, on anything inside or outside of you. When mindful, you notice and observe sensations, thoughts, feelings, sights, sounds, and smells without rejecting or attaching to them. It cultivates the observer in you that notices habitual responses, bringing you closer to your actual experience, not your story about it. You learn to be with whatever comes up in each moment, the best you can. And when you can’t, you be with that too!

Psychologist Britta Hölzel,
at Harvard Medical School, led an eight-week study observing the effect of mindfulness meditation on the brain. After practicing 30 minutes daily for eight weeks, the meditators showed “increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory, and a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress.” The study also examined the mechanisms of mindfulness. Hölzel and her coauthors discovered that mindfulness isn’t a single skill, and identified four key components: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and sense of self. While each component has a distinct function, together they help us attend to our inner life in a way that brings attention to and moderates the activities of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of our being.

Mindfulness is more than a meditation practice;
it’s a way of being. You can be more mindful in every moment and all your activities, such as making decisions, washing the dishes, driving, or standing in line at the bank.

Mindfulness allows a larger point of view, because you’re observing what’s happening, rather than being mindlessly caught in those old stories you tell yourself. This opens you beyond your ordinary perception. You can see, in the moment, the constant repetition of thoughts and feelings in response to your experience. Mindfulness keeps you attentive to life and helps you respond more consciously because you’re better informed.

One quick mindfulness practice is Presencing Yourself.
You can do this as often as you’d like, weaving it through your day.

Presencing Yourself

There is no right way to do this
. Feel free to add or subtract parts of it as you see fit; try it different ways and see what’s best for you. You may need different aspects of this at different times. You can begin with what’s outside of you if you’d like, noticing what you experience through your five senses.

•    What are you seeing around you? What are you hearing, right now? What can you feel with the touch of your hand? What can you taste as you’re doing this? What do you smell, right now?
•    Now bring yourself into Presence in all four dimensions.
•    Now notice what is arising for you physically. What sensations are you experiencing?
•    Now notice what is arising for you emotionally. What feelings are you experiencing?
•    Now notice what is arising for you mentally. What thoughts are you experiencing?
•    Now notice what is arising for you spiritually. What spiritual connection are you experiencing?

Presencing yourself before meditating
or doing any self-awareness exercises will help you connect with yourself more deeply. Being more mindful is an important practice for all of us.

In what ways are you mindful throughout your day? Your comments make a difference for us all.