Transcript of Mindfulness


What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about learning to direct our attention to the present moment as it unfolds, with a sense of curiosity and acceptance, rather than worrying about what has happened, or might happen. It trains us to respond skilfully to whatever is happening right now, be that good or bad.

The main focus of mindfulness is being in the present much more than we are. So as Suzuki Roshi says 'when you bow, you should just bow, when you sit, you should just sit, when you eat, you should just eat'.

What is the science behind mindfulness?

Brain imaging studies shows that mindfulness meditation changes the structure and function of the brain, to improve attention and emotional integration.

Experienced meditators showed increase thickening in the structures of the brain known to be important for life learning and memory, self-awareness and compassion.

Mindfulness is a skill which means it takes practice to develop. We can compare mindfulness to physical exercise. Mindfulness is exercise for the mind, when you go to the gym you train your body so that you can run faster and build muscles to be stronger. In the same way, when you practice mindfulness you train your mind so that you can strengthen your mental capabilities.

Every time your attention wonders and you bring it back to the present, it's like doing a bicep curl that is your attention muscle is working and getting stronger.

So how can you do mindfulness meditation?

Start by paying attention to your breathing, nothing else just breathing in and out. Notice the sounds around you, what can you hear right now. Notice what you can feel, for example the feeling of the Sun on your face, or the clothes on your skin. Taste your food like it is the first time you've ever eaten. Notice the flavours and the textures of the food, each time your mind wonders, gently bring your attention back to what you are eating. 

Incorporate mindfulness into daily activities for example, pay attention to brushing your teeth, showering, or washing up the dishes. Use all your senses to increase the enjoyment of an activity that you do every day.

Mindfulness just has to be experienced. Choose one of the activities we have just suggested and begin today. Choose to live in the present moment. Good luck.

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Mindfulness Expert Perspective:

My name id Laura Kemple, I work at Counselling and Psychological Services. I’m a clinical psychologist and I have a special interest in mindfulness and meditation.

The most cited definition is John Apperson. He talk about mindfulness as paying attention in a particular way on purpose, in the present moment and without judgement. And the most important part of that definition is probably ‘in the present moment’. For most of us what we’ll notice is that our minds tend to wonder, and they wonder into the future and the past, mindfulness is a skill that we learn to catch our minds as they wonder and bring it back to the present moment, to the here and now.

The student’s mark on this has many benefits in terms of their ability to learn better, to concentrate, to attend, and to memories information. It also has benefits for their general wellbeing, we know that mindfulness boasts our immune system and it helps students to deal with difficult situations, difficult feelings, and thoughts. So that they can cope better with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Mindfulness is a skill, and like any skill you need to practice it, so you can get better with mindfulness. And there are two main ways of practicing, and that is having formal time that you might set aside. So for example, every morning you may wake up and do a five, ten, or fifteen minutes breathing exercise. And the other way is a more informal mindfulness practice or having mindful moments through the day, where you bring mindfulness into your everyday activities. So for example, when you’re eating being really aware and using all your senses to try and see your food, and taste our food and really have a full body experience of that. So it is the application of mindfulness in those experiences that is really important.

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Students on Mindfulness

To me mindfulness is about having a strong state of mind that can carry you through a lot of life's challenges.

I guess I associate mindfulness with like umm meditation. Yeah being able to have some distance from your emotions and have a perspective on issues that might be affecting your living.

Leaving it outside of your mind and not really being in touch with your thought. Like living in the present, in the moment and umm what's kind of actually going on in reality.

Isn't it like coloring books and stuff?

When I'm stressed out yeah, kind of doing exercises and stuff.

I practice my mindfulness by taking time out to go into a room alone by myself and get into a meditative state.

I guess I spend time relaxing and even just doing things like driving and things.

I find that riding my bike to and from unit every day is a really great like mental health thing for me, because it gives me space and I like doing something physical.

I'm generally like I jog a lot, umm just generally walking.

Umm, I think society as a whole kind of needs to practice mindfulness to a certain extent otherwise you just won’t function.

Oh yeah, like before I knew about kind of detaching from my mind or my thoughts I was much more anxious and stressed than I am now.

Mindfulness has helped me get through a lot of tough times by helping me cope better with a lot of adversity. So in times when I would face a lot of stress and a lot of, a lot of, a lot of turmoil and stuff within, I would use mindfulness exercises to help me bring myself through it and remain calm and get through this so that I can complete the tasks that I need to do even if I'm under stress.

Yeah I think that sometimes that's the only way to not get really emotional and like, or not feel really overwhelmed. Yeah I just, I don’t know, it’s a very important coping mechanism.

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