Mindfulness is the faculty of being more deeply present with our body, our thoughts, our emotions, and our actions. It is about inhabiting our lives more fully, and waking up to our life, moment by moment.
Practicing mindfulness can lead to very deep levels of relaxation, calmness, and inner balance, as well as to more effective coping with stressful situations. Mindfulness also helps us to respond creatively to pressures and demands, rather than blindly reacting out of habit.
Although many people automatically assume they cannot practice meditation or mindfulness, this is a skill that we all already have – we are all aware sometimes! – and we can develop, the same way one can develop a skill playing music, building muscle, or learning a language. Mindfulness is a way of learning to directly relate to whatever is happening in life, a way of doing something for yourself that no one else can do for you — consciously and systematically working with your own stress, pain, illness, and the challenges and demands of everyday life.
Mindfulness represents a conscious re-orientation of ourselves:
- From acting blindly out of habit (that can cause more stress), to acting skillfully with awareness.
- From isolation to empathy.
- From being frustrated and trying to control, to trying to be aware, to be open to experience.
- From knee-jerk reactions to conscious choice.
What is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction?
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) develops our capacity for mindfulness, with a program of simple techniques and exercises done in class that can be practiced at home. Clinical studies consistently show that the regular practice of MBSR can benefit many people suffering from stress, depression, anxiety, chronic pain and stress-related illness.
The program was created by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, when he developed the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Our courses are modeled on this program. Although the practice of mindfulness derives from the traditions of Asia, this course does not contain anything of a religious nature. You will not be asked to believe anything — except what you experience for yourself. It is simply a technique for developing basic awareness, a state that is deeply relaxing and nourishing for us as human beings.
More—from Oprah magazine
Here are some excellent resources explaining MBSR – an article and an audio recording from Oprah magazine.
Learning to Exhale, Sept 2010–She’d been tearing through her days at warp speed. So how did Catherine Price learn to slow down time, quiet the mental chatter, and savor life’s breezes? One snowcapped mountain meditation at a time. (article)
A good audio introduction to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction read by Prem Kishor on Airs LA (similar to article in Oprah magazine, above). (audio MP3)