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What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the experience of being awake and alive, here and now, aware of our sensations, thoughts, and emotions. And from this awareness, a consciously chosen possibility emerges to respond with gentleness, kindness, compassion, and love.

Other definitions capture the intentional aspect: "Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally," as Jon Kabat-Zinn said.

Guy Armstrong referred to the ability to be aware: "To know that you are experiencing, while you are experiencing."

Mindfulness is not a relaxation technique in itself, not a religion, not a sect, not the transcendence of ordinary life, not emptying the mind of thoughts and emotions, not an escape from pain/suffering, not passivity or resignation, not a falsely positive attitude, and... it's not difficult.

Mindfulness practice helps us understand our minds and their patterns of operation. It also teaches us to change our approach to life through presence to make peace with ourselves and those around us.

Mindfulness gives us permission to wake up from autopilot, providing space to respond rather than react. A mindful attitude helps us generate the freedom to choose creative responses instead of automatic downloads or often non-adaptive reactions.

The most accessible everyday activity in which we can apply mindfulness is brushing our teeth. How often does our mind wander elsewhere in the two minutes it takes to brush our teeth? Just try next time you brush your teeth to be fully present in the entire act of cleaning your teeth, tooth by tooth, without other plans related to the upcoming day.

Easy to say, yet how do we put this state of presence into practice while eating, brushing our teeth, walking, moving, playing with children, or conversing with partners?

The simplest technique is to redirect our attention to our breath. A feature so constant in our lives and yet one that we can easily ignore. Just observing for a few moments the inhalation and exhalation, noticing where it feels most intense in the body, following the rhythm and process of breathing, and observing how thoughts come, stay for a bit, and then leave.

To consistently return to a single object of meditation, such as the breath: that is mindfulness, exercising the muscles of conscious attention.

We invite you to our mindfulness programs, which teach us how to use mindfulness to reduce stress, whether it's stress at home, with children, in our relationships, or work-related stress."

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