MINDFUL AWARENESS OR MINDFULNESS
Mindful awareness as an antidote to stress and anxiety is the subject of research. At the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) The Mindful Awareness Research Centre is a partner of the Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology with the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
In our modern society there have been great advances in science and technology while at the same time people are suffering a lot of stress that is contributing to a variety of mental health issues.
During the last decade, research has demonstrated that mindful awareness can be used to address a number of health issues. These include:
- help with anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive-disorder
- less emotional reactivity
- facilitates mental wellbeing
- boosting the immune system
- increasing attention and focus
- lowering blood pressure
- increasing the healing response
- thickening areas of the brain (e.g the pre-frontal cortex) involved in decision making, emotional flexibility empathy, self-awareness and compassion
Mindful awareness involves paying attention to present moment experiences. It invites you to
- STOP the flow of mental activity
- BREATHE (eyes open or closed)
- OBSERVE INTERNALLY e.g body sensations, emotions, thoughts, mood; or OBSERVE EXTERNALLY
- CONNECT WITH ONE’S INNER EXPERIENCE
- DEAL WITH YOUR DISTRACTING, WANDERING MIND Mindfulness practice helps you to deal with your constant inner dialogue which can be very intrusive e.g negative “brain chatter”. You can learn how not to be swept away by it. Note: the aim is not to stop thinking but to let go of thoughts. You can imagine your thoughts as small clouds floating by.
- TO BE PRESENT WITH ALL THAT LIFE BRINGS WHETHER JOYFUL OR PAINFUL
Mindfulness is a form of self-awareness training; it has been adapted from Buddhist mindfulness meditation. It has been described as a state of being in the present accepting things for what they are i.e without judgement.
- keeps your mind from being lost in the past or future e.g catastrophizing
- helps counteract automaticity; we are often on “auto pilot”. You can be helped to be more connected.
- can be practised as a type of meditation or as a quality of attention you bring into daily life e.g when you are walking
- can reduce stress
- involves being rather than doing
- awakens your senses
Example: Mindful Walking
While you are walking concentrate on the feel of the ground under your feet and your breathing when walking. Observe what is going on around you and stay in the present. Let other thoughts go. Look at the sky and the view. Feel the wind on your face. Enjoy the moment.
See the following YouTube with Diana Winston (UCLA) for an introduction to the basics of mindful awareness, both theory and practice.
The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has free guided mindfulness meditations presented as podcasts. You can practice these on your own.
For further information see:
For “Free Meditation Podcasts at the Hammer Museum” see the weekly podcasts at:
See the following YouTube for guidance through a “Breathing Meditation” with Diana Winston, UCLA Mindfulness Research Centre. This is a mindfulness exercise that focusses on your breathing, your body and relaxation. It takes just a few minutes and is something you could practise regularly.
CHILDREN ARE OFTEN MINDFULLY AWARE
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MINDFULNESS AND HOW TO INCORPORATE IT INTO YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIVING CALL ME TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT AT EITHER CASTLE HILL OR WAHROONGA:
Mob 0478 783 506
Tel 9943 2400