What is Mindfulness?
A practice used as part of several retreats in Serendipity Institute
Mindfulness is a modern reworking of ancient meditative practices and attitudes and it supports you maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It’s about living your life as if it really mattered, moment by moment by moment by moment.
Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that you pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment.
A mindfulness therapist will help you establish a daily mindfulness practice, often mindfulness of your breath, your body and your senses.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Your mind is like any other part of your being. You have benefits from understanding how it works and you can train it to work even better. Specifically a mindfulness practice has the following benefits:
- Stability of mind – maintaining your mind in an alert clear space rather than at the two extremes of a dull or agitated mind.
- Flexibility of mind – the ability to shift your mind to whatever object you choose, rather than having it bounce haphazardly between a number of issues.
- Self awareness – being aware of the contents of your mind and understanding the typical patterns of your mind.
- Acting rather than reacting – becoming less reactive, e.g. when you are angry and choosing how you will act.
However, it’s not called a practice for nothing. Like any other form of therapy, real change will require commitment from your side.
How does it work?
While most of what we achieve is by “doing”, mindfulness achieves its ends by “not doing,” simply by observing. Thoughts like “I must be stupid” and many others are subtle and we generally believe them uncritically. By being mindful of your thoughts you gradually get the idea that they are just thoughts that you are having and there is no need to believe them uncritically.
The technique is taught as a part of several retreats in Serendipity Institute, during which you are going to learn the basics of the method practicing sufficiently and experiencing its beneficial results.
How to Cultivate Mindfulness?
Here are a few key components of practicing mindfulness:
- Pay close attention to your breathing, especially when you’re feeling intense emotions.
- Notice—really notice—what you’re sensing in a given moment, the sights, sounds, and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching your conscious awareness.
- Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and do not define you, an insight that can free you from negative thought patterns.
- Tune into your body’s physical sensations, from the water hitting your skin in the shower to the way your body rests in your office chair.