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Mindfulness


Mindfulness seems to be the buzzword of the decade, despite having been around for centuries.

Mindfulness is a major component of the Buddhist tradition, and is often associated with meditation.  Research done during the last few decades has shown that mindfulness can be used to treat relatively minor issues like excessive stress, as well as more major ailments, for example, anxiety, depression, PTSD, various types of addictions, chronic pain, and borderline personality disorder.

Mindfulness practice entails being aware and paying attention to each moment as it happens, as well as having an open attitude about whatever it is that one feels or thinks in each moment.  The first part is difficult, the second part even more so.  But that is why mindfulness is called a “practice”; it could take a lifetime to get it right.

However, does mindfulness take away our opportunities to be imaginative, spontaneous and creative? I have always had an active imagination, frequently veering off into the realm of excessive worrying and needless feelings of guilt and remorse.  But my imagination also spawns great ideas and allows me to be creative, clever and inventive.

As an example, how did I get the idea for this article?

I received a notice in the mail that I was caught by a speed camera, going 40 mph in a 30 mph zone.  This is a speed camera that I drive by every day!  I was obviously not mindful that morning, but what was I thinking?  I have no idea now, but perhaps I was thinking about ideas for my next article, or maybe I was coming up with new ways to cook sweet potatoes, or rehearsing in my head a conversation that I would be having later that day.  All useful and practical brain activities, I think.

I suppose there is a time and place for mindfulness.  As a fearful flyer, I use mindfulness techniques on an airplane.  Rather than imagining the plane falling out of the sky with me in it, and landing in a huge fireball on the ground, I count the number of rows on the plane, or I feel the bumps on the seat belt strap.  I use my senses to keep me focused on the here and now until the plane is at cruising altitude, when I can then turn on my electronic devices to keep me distracted.

And when I take a run in the woods, I often let my mind be in the moment, watching the ducks, listening to the geese flying overhead, and feeling the cool breeze on my face.  But this can also be a time for me to not be in the moment, and instead try to solve a nagging problem, or have a pleasant fantasy in my head to divert my mind from focusing on the fact that my legs are crying for mercy when I am at the end of long run.

So as a result of my lack of mindfulness I did have a $40 speeding ticket, but I think it is a small price to pay for a great post!

Read more posts by Linda Tabach, Linda is a blogger for JenningsWire.


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