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PART 1: MINDFULNESS: What is it?

Definition: Mindfulness is a state of heightened awareness of the present moment without judgment.

HEIGHTENED AWARENESS: Awareness of both internal and external experiences and events.

PRESENT MOMENT AWARENESS: Awareness of what is happening now versus ruminating on the past or anticipating the future.

CONTROLLED AWARENESS: Awareness that is focused on one thing at a time.

NON-JUDGMENTAL AWARENESS: Awareness without judging as good/bad or right/wrong. Non-judgmental awareness is simply noticing “what is” without interpreting or analyzing.

Mindful awareness can help us to:

  • Separate out our experience of reality from reality. Like a lens through which we experience ourselves and the world around us, the lens can be clear (our experience of reality matches reality and we respond in kind) or tinted, imbued with interpretation (our experience of reality does not represent reality, however we think, feel and act as if it does).

  • Slow down the process of cue/stimulus (e.g. anger) and action/response (e.g. attack).

  • Calm the body and the mind. We feel more relaxed and grounded (vs. stressed and disengaged) as well as alert and clearheaded (vs. dull and scattered).

  • Improve focus and concentration: Strengthened ability to control where we place our mind and keep it there - analogous to a well-trained dog that obediently and swiftly responds to its owner’s commands of “come, sit, and stay”.

  • Radically accept “what is” thereby enabling us to act more effectively in the moment. Willingness over willfulness: Doing what the situation calls for vs. sitting on our hands when action is needed (e.g. being stuck in self-righteous indignation or stubbornness “cutting off your nose despite your face”, denying, avoiding, and procrastinating).

  • Respond with compassion and forgiveness. The definition of the word forgiveness is “to untie”- by reducing judgment and understanding the bigger picture of cause and effect overtime, we are able to untie ourselves from negative experiences and emotions. We are “freed up” so to speak, to let go and move on.

  • Expand our window of attention. We see the big picture vs. selectively focusing on only a piece, thus, our perspective is more expansive and balanced.

  • Act with intention and purpose. Taking “time in” to reflect facilitates increased awareness of what we ultimately want – for ourselves, others, and the planet as a whole. We are aware of the interconnectedness of all things living “like a pebble thrown into a lake that creates ripple after ripple”; every action – even the smallest and seemingly insignificant – has an effect.

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