Many of us feel the constant pressure to do more, move faster and respond sooner. It can be exhausting and stressful, and as a result, we can feel as if we are moving through life on autopilot — devoid of pleasure and joy, and simply reacting to obstacles in a brain fog. Through the practice of mindfulness, we can learn to actively engage in self-care, finding peace of mind and greater balance in life.
Mindfulness was formalized as a practice for stress reduction in 1979 by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. He initially developed an eight-week course, now known as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), as an outpatient program to treat patients suffering from chronic pain. Since that time, thousands have benefited from participating in the program. Research has validated the positive impact of the MBSR course and mindfulness on brain health.
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.
Source: Psychology Today
One advantage of being mindful is that it allows us to respond to situations with equanimity rather than reacting emotionally in a “knee-jerk” fashion. Mindfulness helps us extinguish our negative emotional reactions. It does this by increasing our exposure to the stimuli that provoke these reactions while helping us to maintain an open, non-judgmental stance. Additionally, mindfulness training has been shown to improve attention, working memory, emotional and cognitive control and decision making. It also protects the brain from the aging process; those who meditate have much more grey matter in their frontal, parietal and temporal lobes, and in the mid-brain and cerebellum.
I personally have engaged in practicing mindfulness for several decades. I have now integrated mindfulness into my professional life with my work as project manager and instructor for the MBSR program at Jupiter Medical Center. My typical practice is to sit every morning for 30 minutes and connect to my breath. I do this twice more in shorter increments throughout the day. When my mind is carried away by distractions (which is normal), I gently and non-judgmentally return to the breath.
Mindfulness practice has allowed me to be more present in my life and in my relationships. When life is demanding and I am pulled in several directions at once, my peace of mind is compromised, and I can feel my brain becoming overstimulated. By pausing to take a few breaths, and connecting with the breath moving in and out of my body, I can return to ease. When I come back to the present moment, I am able to make decisions from a much healthier place.
Please join us at Jupiter Medical Center for one of our upcoming courses and workshops designed to bring greater balance, ease and peace of mind to your life. Whether you are new to mindfulness or a regular practitioner, make time for yourself and engage with us and your fellow participants.
Jupiter Medical Center’s Calcagnini Center for Mindfulness is located on the hospital campus at 1230 South Old Dixie Highway, Jupiter. To register for upcoming classes, please call 561-263-MIND (6463) or visit jupitermed.com/events.
Contributed by: Sheila Griffin, MPA, Project Manager and Instructor, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, Jupiter Medical Center