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  • Writer's pictureMelisa De Seguirant

Putting Mindfulness Into Practice

Updated: Apr 15


Mindfulness is widely accepted as beneficial for our mental health, though many people still lack an understanding of what it is and how to cultivate it. This week we’ll be doing a bit of an overview, with a focus on methods of incorporating it into daily practice.


REFLECT ~

  • What is your understanding of mindfulness?

  • Do you think you are "bad at it"?

  • What do you know about the difference between mindfulness and meditation?

  • Have you heard of informal mindfulness?

  • Have you developed a formal or informal mindfulness practice? Why or why not?



Scroll for for a brief overview to get you started!


 




Our mental health is heavily impacted by how we orient ourselves to our experiences. 


The challenge, however, is that most people struggle with basic awareness of themselves in the totality of their experience at any given moment.




PRACTICING NOTICING ~


We have to practice noticing. Noticing what we can see, hear, smell, taste, feel – the points of contact with the ground beneath us, the movement in the air, the texture of our clothing. Noticing our thoughts – whether they’re racing, nagging, churning or slowly drifting about. We have to practice noticing our feelings, and noticing our feelings about our feelings. We have to practice noticing our breath and our bodies, and how they respond to our thoughts and feelings in a given moment. 


We have to practice noticing the present moment to strengthen our ability to stay with it. 


The more we practice, even just for a moment, the stronger that mental muscle gets. 


Then, when we are really feeling triggered and worked up, we have a better chance at being able to notice. To notice when we begin to dysregulate, tracking the activation and how it moves through our bodies. To notice all of the different aspects of our present moment experience – what’s happening to our breath, what our thoughts are latching onto, which parts of ourselves are reacting to the trigger, what memories are popping up. 


We have a better chance at being able to notice which aspects of our present moment experience we want to sink our attention into, and to notice and create space from those that aren’t helpful to fixate on.


We have a better chance at noticing our impulses before we even have a chance to react.


Practice noticing regularly. Practice right now.


What do you notice?


 


Ever seen the movie Inside Out? If you have, you know what it looks like when a single emotion takes the wheel and assumes total control over our actions. We’ve all been there.


When we are triggered, we tend to over-identify with the emotions we are feeling. We forget that we are a human having an emotion, instead fusing ourselves with the emotions we feel almost as if to become them. We become fear instead of feeling fear. We become anger instead of just experiencing it.


Mindfulness helps us find some space


Back to Inside Out … imagine if Riley could notice her emotions. Notice when anger, fear, or disgust was at the wheel, or notice when sadness went away. In a mindful moment, she could check-in with herself, notice those things, and make a choice as to whom she wanted in the driver’s seat at any given moment.


It isn’t about shutting emotions out. Sometimes it’s important for fear or anger to drive. The goal of mindfulness is to give us the space to choose, so that we can navigate the things we experience more effectively. 


… I wonder if Riley will get an introduction to mindfulness in Inside Out 2 🤔


 

The 9 Attitudes of Mindfulness, as described by Jon Kabat-Zinn


We’ve discussed the ‘noticing’ part of mindfulness, but there is a specific attitude mindfulness invites us to cultivate when we do so. In other words, HOW we notice matters.



NOTICE THIS ~ 


Take a moment to scan each of the 9 attitudes listed. How does it feel to momentarily embody each? How does each change your tone, your thought process, your posture, your agenda?


 

BACK TO THE ROOTS ~  


Mindfulness can be traced back to Hinduism and Buddhism. More recently it made its way into western medicine with an assist from Jon Kabat-Zinn. 


The spiritual context from which mindfulness was born is significant. We can measure, study, and research the benefits of mindfulness from a secular lens and see impressive results, but when we completely strip the religious context away from the practice we run the risk of becoming overly fixated on attentiveness and cognitive optimization, falling short of the quality of embodiment that mindfulness actually requires. 


The 9 attitudes of mindfulness, Zinn’s contribution as he brought mindfulness west, offers us clear direction about what qualities to embody when practicing paying attention to the present-moment. When incorporated and centralized, these attitudes infuse mindfulness practice with meaning.


 

HOT TAKE ~ The 9 attitudes of mindfulness can also be used to describe the quality of secure attachment!


Isn’t that kind of what mindfulness is inviting? …secure attachment with the present moment? Not striving to change it nor avoiding it and numbing it out, but sitting with it from a place of grounded trust and acceptance? Even when it feels challenging to do so? 


 

IDEAS FOR WORKING WITH THE ATTITUDES ~


Take time with each of these attitudes. Scan through a list of them before you engage in formal meditation practice, or pick one per month to work with. Post them in your home or office where you can see them every day. Notice which ones you organically resonate with, and which feel the most difficult to embody. Keep practicing. Keep noticing.


What are YOUR ideas?


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