Cultivating Mindfulness

There are several ways to begin cultivating Mindfulness.

The foundation skill is Mindful Breathing

This involves merely sitting and paying attention to your breathing. Because the mind is naturally active, we have to bring our attention back to our breathing over and over. That’s why Mindfulness is a practice. Recognizing when we are engaged in thinking, snagged by stories about our thoughts, then bringing the attention back to the breathing is Mindfulness. As we learn this practice, we are allowing the development of concentration and the ability to focus on what is occurring in the present moment. Eventually we are able to note our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations as they are happening. And we can do this without judging. This is how we learn to be responsive, rather than reactive.

Another Mindfulness tool is the Body Scan

By scanning the body with the attention, starting with the toes, we learn to attend to the cues sent by the body. Many times our attention is caught by something the body is trying to communicate-maybe a pain, a position, a facial expression. There is a world of information in that flutter in the belly, the headache, the neck pain. The Body Scan allows us to pay attention, listen to what the body conveys, and to note the links with thought and emotion. These and other Mindfulness skills are taught in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course, a series of 8 weekly, 90-minute classes and an all day retreat. Individual instruction is also available.

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