What is Mindfulness and where do I start?

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when we pay attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgement (Kabat-Zinn, 2011). We learn to step out of automatic pilot, which in turn affects how we make decisions and react to situations in our lives.

We spend most of our time ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Through mindfulness, we can learn to bring moment to moment awareness to everyday experiences that we ordinarily do not notice. By learning to pay attention in this way, we learn to recognize thoughts as thoughts, feelings as feelings, and body sensations as body sensations. A mindfulness practice involves learning formal practices (e.g., seated mindfulness meditation) and informal practices, where we can bring mindful awareness to our everyday experiences (e.g., brushing our teeth, eating a meal).

A New Way of Relating to Pain:

There are ways that we can learn to skillfully deal with pain. With mindful awareness, we can learn to notice the changing physical sensations of what we call “pain", and our reactions or aversion to pain including contracting, pushing away, discomfort and repulsion. We can learn to let go of the resistance which leads to mental suffering around pain, and instead, to notice thoughts as thoughts, emotions as emotions, and to directly experience the physical sensations in a clear, open way. 

How to get started?

Daily Opportunities for Mindfulness:

·      Strive to be mindful daily (mindful breathing, mindful eating, mindful walking)

·      Develop mindful moments (e.g. brushing teeth)

·      Be aware of bodily experience when feeling rushed, overwhelmed or fatigued

·      Notice your bodily experience when you are relaxed, happy, comfortable or at ease

·      Slow down. Avoid rushing

Mindfulness Tool: STOP

·      Stop

·      Take a breath

·      Observe (e.g. thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations)

·      Proceed

Recorded Meditations

·      www.dharmaseed.org

·      http://marc.ucla.edu/

Free Meditation Apps

·      Headspace

·      Insight Timer

·      http://stopbreathethink.org

 Mindfulness courses (in Vancouver area)

·      www.mbsrbc.ca (Various teachers listed)

·      www.mindfulnessinaction.ca (Tom Heah)

·      www.rebeccarauscher.ca (Rebecca Rauscher)

·      www.vancouvercbt.ca (Mark Lau)

Sitting groups/retreats

·      www.westcoastdharma.org

·      http://bcims.org/