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What is Mindfulness? An Introduction

By Jessica Diktas

What exactly is Mindfulness? What is my mind full of? These are questions students often ask in their first class session. To put it in the simplest terms, Mindfulness is paying attention to what’s going on in the present moment intentionally without judgment, and then simply noticing when your thoughts pull you away from this awareness and focus and pull you back into thinking about past or future. We most often actually live in our heads thinking approximately 30,000 thoughts a day. Many of us (including myself) at one point or another have gotten so caught up in the mind that we are not truly living in the present moment, and more often than not, are living our lives on autopilot.

The practice of Mindfulness is a systematic, yet revolutionary way of creating space in the mind and allowing us to live more fully. As we create little moments of space throughout our days we begin to feel an increased level of calm, a greater level of balance and a higher level of peace inside. We live in a world of doing and have in many ways become human-doings more than human beings. Being in the moment of each of our lives is what Mindfulness is all about. It’s about taking the time and care to fully experience our real lives, which is unfolding right in front of us.

Here’s a perfect example of not being in the present moment: Have you ever been eating something really delicious only to find out that when you look down to take another bite, you actually already ate it? The answer is yes, and why? Because we were not fully present with our actual act of eating, our minds took to us to different places of past and future, here and there, all the while we were actually simply eating. How many more simple, yet fun moments have we missed? How many smiles, kind gestures, or even profound moments have we missed? Now is truly the only time we have, and ever will have. It’s time to start living more often here, and nowhere else, because here in this moment is where all the magic and beauty of life happens!

Mindfulness can be practiced formally and informally. Formally is any allotted amount of time with the specific intention of focused meditation, guided or non-guided, and informal is the practice of mindful awareness through your daily living. Both practices create space in the mind, and present moment to moment awareness. You can choose which works best for you, or perhaps even both. Included with the formally guided meditations is an audio link where yours truly will guide you.

Even as I am writing this blog, my mind is drawn away in thinking about the past and future, but luckily for you, it’s back again. Mindfulness is an ever-evolving personal practice, and only you can take the journey. The funny thing is there is nowhere to go but here, there is no one to be but you. For all the human-doings out there, and my students, past, present and future, this blog is for you.

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Here’s a great TEDx talk by Daron Larson on the topic that introduces Mindfulness, and also offers a few easy examples to incorporate Mindfulness into your everyday life:

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