What Is This Mindfulness Stuff?

What Is This Mindfulness Stuff?

“There he goes again. Every time I ask him to take the trash out he throws a fit!”

                                                       or perhaps

“Ok doc so my blood sugar is elevated. That just makes me a sweeter lady doesn’t it…what’s the big deal?”

These are just examples of two comments you may have heard yourself or someone else say lately. They are examples of pretty common thinking or behaviors. How might they relate to positive aging, you ask? Well plenty. In the first case the husband doesn’t appear to have much self-control with his temper. In the second case, the woman also doesn’t appear to have much self-control in her diet. Both of these people may be good candidates for the practice of Mindfulness.

We pretty much need to be living under a rock to have never heard of Mindfulness. But just because we have hear the term, doesn’t mean we actually know what it means or that we practice it.

Certainly the term refers to be “mindful” of what we are doing, rather than operating like a mindless “space cadet”. However, there is quite a bit more to Mindfulness than that. What some once thought of as some kind of “hippy behavior” in the 1960’s, has actually become much better understood since then. In fact, this 2000-year practice has become a well-accepted form of treatment in psychotherapy. It is also used to promote performance enhancement in education, business, and athletics. For example, the coach of the Seattle Seahawks has integrated Mindfulness in the training process for his players.

The primary task of Mindfulness is to help us keep a negative stimulus (i.e. someone telling us what to do, screaming children, a slow driver in front of us) DISTINCT from the reaction (emotional or behavioral) we have to that stimulus.

Mindfulness helps us feel the emotion (i.e., anger, fear, boredom) without acting on the emotion. Rather than being driven by our own reactions there is room to choose to be a different kind of person.

But does Mindfulness really work? The answer is yes. HOWEVER, it depends how much practice we give to it. It is not much different than learning to play a musical instrument. If we are content with playing “chop sticks” that is our choice. But if we want to play Mozart now that is a different story. The fact is that most of us don’t need to be Mozart-like Mindfulness practitioners. Somewhere in the middle will just fine for most of us.

As a psychologist I am amazed at the many positive reports I get from my clients who are beginning-to-intermediate Mindfulness practitioners. I see changes in stress management, anxiety, trauma, addictions, etc.

There are many publications and classes available. If you haven’t already tried it, why not join the many other FineWiners out there who are benefitted by living more in the present moment?

Tim Berry

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