November 10, 2011
“When you walk, just walk. Let the walk walk. Let the talk talk. Let the eating eat, the sitting sit, the work work. Let sleep sleep.”
-German monk Muho Noelke,
abbot of Antai-ji, a Buddhist temple in Japan
Mindfulness. Many definitions of mindfulness are used in contemporary psychology here in the United States. At Walden School, educator Ann D’Angelo trains faculty in mindfulness techniques that can be applied in the classroom. Bringing one’s full attention, perhaps with an audio cue, to this moment is one example of intentional mindfulness. Teaching children to take three deep breaths to center and focus their internal thoughts as they transition from one activity to another is another example. Paying attention to feelings and thoughts, without judgment or action, is also a standard practice in mindfulness.
Do you ever think about intentional mindfulness? Promoting peace, compassion and tolerance through inner reflection is a noble goal. While historically rooted in Buddhist traditions, the concept of meditation to deal with stress is common to many disciplines, religious and secular. Jon Kabat-Zinn codified a collection of adapted techniques in his book Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.
Recently, Perspectives on Psychological Science published a study by Britta Hölzel of Justus Liebig University and Harvard Medical School. The journal article describes beneficial outcomes of mindfulness, including attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and increased sense of self.
Try a meditative breathing exercise. Take a moment to just sit still, listen, and be. Open yourself to new awareness. Be mindful.