The best mindfulness definition I've found so far is from mindful.org: "Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us."
Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as “Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and
non-judgmentally.” This article on mrsmindfulness.com explains it more in depth.
For the purpose of this blog, I refer to mindfulness as anything related to using the power of your mind to achieve better well-being, whether it be reaching your goals, finding more peace or joy in your life, improving your relationships with yourself and others, being more present and satisfied with life in general, and so on. I couldn't find a better word that would encompass all that.
My Top Three Mindfulness Tools
In my search for inner peace, I've discovered great resources that have helped me along my path, most of them free or very affordable, and I want to take the time to review them here on this blog and give my feedback, so other people can see if those tools could also work for them. I put together a list of those resources, which you can access on the Toolbox tab. Here are my top three.
There are plenty of free guided meditations online if you search for them, but it's really quite simple: just stop what you're doing, take a few deep breaths, and focus on your breathing and on how you feel in your body, letting your thoughts come and go without judging them or focusing on them. That's it! It can be done anywhere, any time, for any length of time. It creates a space between your thoughts and your response, and it allows you to access your Higher Self for answers as opposed to making your decisions based on your own beliefs and your usual response.
If you're new to meditation, I would recommend starting with a group meditation. I personally find it easier to meditate when I'm in a group setting. Meetup.com is an easy way to find group meditations in your area. Just search for "meditation" or search by category under Health & Wellness. Meditation in New Jersey (shown in the picture above) is my favorite so far.
Another great tool I've just recently discovered is the Insight Timer app, which offers a variety of free guided meditations.
I've only discovered the Inner Bonding process a few months ago, and it has helped me SO much that I will review it on my next post. This method was developed by Dr. Margaret Paul and Dr. Erika Chopich over the past thirty years.
The Inner Bonding process is a self-healing process using the concepts of Inner Child (the core of who you are, your essence), Wounded Self (your system of thoughts and beliefs you developed to protect yourself from pain), Inner Guidance (your wiser self, your spiritual connection to your Source, whatever you choose to call it), Loving Adult (the loving, caring part of you that is connected to your Inner Guidance).
It teaches us that there are only two primary intents: to learn about loving yourself and others or to protect yourself from fear and pain with addictive, controlling behavior. Deciding to learn from our painful feelings instead of protecting ourselves from pain is the first step toward healing.
The Inner Bonding process consists of six steps:
- Step One: Be willing to feel pain and to take responsibility for your feelings
- Step Two: Move into the intent to learn
- Step Three: Dialogue with your wounded self and core self (inner child)
- Step Four: Dialogue with your Higher Guidance
- Step Five: Take the loving action learned in Step Four
- Step Six: Evaluate your action
I read The Happiness Trap, by Dr. Russ Harris, a few years ago, and it totally changed the way I deal with negative thoughts and emotions. I had the habit back then of running a constant rant in my head about a situation that was bothering me, and this method helped me get over that.
The book explains that your thoughts are simply stories you tell yourself: they may or may not be true; they may or may not be useful. Once you recognize your thoughts for what they are (a story), they don't have as much control over you. They are still there, but they don't affect you as much. In my case, they went away completely, which wasn't the goal, but hey, I'll take it!
My favorite trick from this book is to hear your thoughts in a cartoon voice. I couldn't take those thoughts seriously when I heard them in Donald Duck's voice. This is only one of the many easy and simple methods the book offers to deal with negative thoughts and feelings. It also teaches how to make space for the negative emotions instead of judging them or fighting them, and to just let them be.
This book is a great tool if you are constantly distracted by negative thoughts while trying to meditate.
Question of the Week
How does "being present" help you in a time of crisis?
Answer in the comments or just meditate on this question.