Mindfulness

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. –  Jon Kabat-Zinn (1991)

Mindfulness is not so much an activity, but a way of being in the moment. The term mindfulness originates from the Sanskrit word “Smṛti,” which literally translates to “that which is remembered”. Mindfulness thus can be seen as a practice in remembering to pay attention to the present moment experience (Nack, Harris & Fortthun, 2014). 

In daily life we often navigate through the world by using the automatic pilot, i.e. our habits and automatic thought/movement patterns. Even more important, our mind is often at a different place then where the body is – distracted, wandering around, worrying, planning ahead, straying.

Mindfulness invites us to intentionally disengage from automatic pilot and to bring our full attention to the here and now. Mindfulness is a practice that brings you back to the here-and-now experiences, it helps you to disengage from unhelpful modes of mind and to engage with more helpful ones.

Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it. – Sylvia Boorstein

We can distinguish two kinds of modes in which the mind operates: the ‘doing’ mode and the ‘being’ mode.

Doing mode:

  • the getting things done mode;
  • achieving, striving;
  • setting goals;
  • problem solving;
  • disintegrating and disconnecting;
  • the doing mode is activated when we experience a discrepancy between where we are now and where we want to be.

Being mode:

  • conscious choice to become aware of all aspects of our body, mind and life without judgment or interpretation;
  • in the here-and-now;
  • no longer running on our habits;
  • allows us to experience things as if for the very first time, with a freshness and a beginners mind;
  • connecting and gathering;
  • curiosity;
  • no setting of goals.

Core features of mindfulness: non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, letting go.

Essentially, mindfulness allows us to live in ways that are less automatic. This necessarily means less time spent worrying, ruminating, and trying to control things we can’t control. It means we become less vulnerable to the throes of the fear-driven, older parts of our brains, and freer to use our newer and more sophisticated mental abilities: patience, compassion, acceptance and reason. – David Cain

The mindfulness training consists of eight weekly sessions, 2.5-3.5 hours in duration. Each session contains the following elements: exercises, (individual and group) inquiry and education.  Formal mindful exercises include: body scan meditation, Hatha yoga, sitting meditation (mindfulness of breath, body, feelings, thoughts, emotions,and choiceness awareness). Informal mindful exercises include:  awareness of pleasant and unpleasant events, awareness of breathing, deliberate awareness of routine activities . daily home assignments are given  including a minimum of 45 minutes per day of formal mindfulness.

 

Upcoming Mindful training sessions:
 Utrecht University of the Arts, October -December 2019, for students, teachers and staff

Further reading material:
Kabat-Zinn, J. Mindfulness Meditation: What It Is, What It Isn’t, And It’s Role In Health Care and Medicine
and Suzuki, M. Comparative and Psychological Study on Meditation. Eburon, Netherlands, 1996. Pg. 161-169.

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