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Month: April 2016

Mindful Words

Mindful Words

imageDo the words meditation or mindfulness scare you? Do you have a negative reaction if someone encourages you to meditate in order to reduce the stress in your life? Are you an individual that believes only Buddhist monks can meditate? Do you feel that it is against your religious beliefs to meditate?

Let’s think about other ways to define mindfulness. The ancient Sanskrit word SATI is defined as the ability to observe things with bare awareness. The ability to observe thoughts, emotions, and sensations in the body without judgement. It is the capacity to perceive events without labeling them as either positive or negative.

The capability to view events with complete neutrality and complete objectivity is a tremendous asset to possess. To learn this ability takes time and practice just like any other learned skill. The good news is that all humans are capable of developing the skill of mindfulness. Unfortunately, the use of words like meditation and mindfulness can frighten or intimidate people preventing then from exploring these concepts further.

I have found that using other words or phrases can assist people to get over their initial aversion to mindfulness or meditation. Changing these terms to ideas that make sense in the modern world and that make sense to you as an individual will help you move forward in exploring the wonderful world of mindfulness.

Below are possible terms that can be used to describe mindfulness:

Focused attention
Getting in the zone
Accepting the moment
Tuning-in
Unplugging
Praying
Opening to the moment
Changing the channel
Taking a breath
Changing your relationship to thoughts and feelings
Surfing the moment
Getting into the game
Creating space from negativity

The above are some of the possible terms that can replace the terms mindfulness and meditation. It is best if each of us come up with our own phrase or word to define mindfulness. Take five minutes now to do this.

The Mindfulness Breakthrough Book Review

The Mindfulness Breakthrough Book Review

This is my first review on a product about mindfulness. I just finished reading: The Mindfulness Breakthrough: The revolutionary Approach to Dealing with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression.

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This is a book about mindfulness written by Sarah Silverton. She is currently a mindfulness teacher and trainer at The Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University.

The book is broken down into 2 parts and a total of 9 chapters:

Part One: Understanding mindfulness

  • Introducing Mindfulness
  • Paying Attention Mindfully
  • Practicing Mindfulness

Part Two: Mindfulness with Life’s Challenges

  • Mindfulness and Depression
  • Mindfulness for Stress and Anxiety
  • Mindfulness in Relationships
  • Mindfulness with Children
  • Mindfulness with Carers
  • Mindfulnes and Illness

The purpose of the book is to introduce the reader to mindfulness from both a theoretical perspective and through actual experience via exercises provided in the book. It is the hope of the author that the reader may discover things about his or her self and through this new found knowledge find ways to change his or her life in a positive direction.

The book serves as a great introduction to mindfulness. By no means does the author claim that the book is the end all to learning about mindfulness. In fact, the author recommends that the reader should attend classes with an experienced mindfulness teacher to better learn and to more fully experience mindfulness.

I would agree that this is a basic introductory book about mindfulness. If you are an intermediate or advanced learner of mindfulness, then this is not the book for you. There are plenty of other books available for the advanced learner.

The layout of the book is beautiful. The words are printed in blue ink. There are numerous insightful quotes placed at appropriate intervals throughout the book. In addition, a multitude of pictures, diagrams, flow charts, and exercises are presented to enhance your understanding of mindfulness.

Overall, my opinion is that this is a well written book for its intended purpose. You could purchase this book new or used for under 10 dollars. It is a book that could be used as a reference at a future point in time if one is suddenly facing a new challenge like stress, illness, or anxiety. At a length of less than 200 pages, it is a quick and easy read. But do not fool yourself. To fully digest the material presented, it may take a lifetime of practice.

Mindful Listening Exercise

Mindful Listening Exercise

How often do you truly listen to people when they are speaking?

A simple mindful listening exercise can lead to revelations about how people communicate with each other. Most people have good Listening Quoteintentions when they are attempting to listen to someone speaking to them. They want to listen. They want to understand what the other individual is trying to relate. However, thoughts in the mind get in the way. Instead of listening when being spoken to, the mind wanders off in infinite directions. These thoughts subsequently distract the listener from understanding the message being delivered. Here are a few examples of what can interfere with true listening:

  • Worrying about all the things that need to be accomplished today
  • Thinking about how to respond to the current conversation
  • Making judgements about what the other individual is saying
  • Being distracted by events occurring simultaneously in the environment around us
  • Jumping to conclusions before contemplating what is being said

What are the consequences of not effectively listening?

There are a multitude of consequences that result from not listening to others when they are speaking. Here are a few of the possible consequences that come to mind:

  • Lack of understanding of the other’s point of view.
  • Forgetting the name of a person after they have been introduced
  • Feeling anxious over how to respond to what is being said
  • Loss of the ability to be empathetic
  • Jumping to the wrong conclusion
  • Making wrong assumptions
  • Not being open to new possibilities, opinions, and alternatives
  • Causing the speaker to feel unheard and not understood
  • Loss of the ability to be present in the moment

What is mindful listening?Mindful Listening

Mindful listening is the ability to listen right here and right now. Right now I am being with this person and l am listening to them. It is the ability to focus on what is being communicated. It is the awareness that there is no other place to be at this moment in time.

 

The best way to understand mindful listening is to directly experience mindful listening. Here is an easy exercise you can do to experience mindful listening.

Mindful Listening Exercise

  1. Take 30 seconds to focus on your breathing. Pay attention to the air as it passes in during inspiration and as it passes out during expiration.
  2. Do this with a partner. Allow the partner to talk without interruption about whatever he or she wants to relate for about 5 minutes.
  3. When you are the listener, just simply listen.
  4. Do not comment on what is being said.
  5. Do not answer them.
  6. Do not get into a conversation.
  7. Indicate that you are paying attention through direct eye contact
  8. You can use other non-verbal cues such as nodding, smiling, etc.
  9. Notice your own impulse to speak.
  10. Notice if you mind wanders.
  11. After the speaker is finished, the listener can tell the speaker what they just heard in order to see if the communication was understood.
  12. If you did this exercise with a partner, now swap roles.

Here are some questions to reflect upon after completing the exercise.

  1. What was it like to just listen and focus all you awareness on the person speaking?
  2. Were you able to remember better what the speaker communicated with active mindful listening compared to what you usually do?
  3. If your mind wandered off to other internal thoughts while you were trying to listen, how easy was it to refocus your awareness back to listening to the speaker?
  4. Were you able to listen without judging what was being communicated?
  5. If you were the speaker, how did it feel to have someone’s undivided attention?

Listening most basic need