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Category Archives for "Elements of Mindfulness"

4 Basic Elements of the Mindfulness Practice

An excerpt from 4 Basic Elements of the Mindfulness Practice by Aware Meditation App​​

Breathing

Breathing is an essential aspect of one’s being. Yet, we take this activity for granted without realizing its effects on our body. Breathing is very important for us to efficiently conduct our day to day activities without giving up on the sense of well-being. It can help relieve stress and calm our minds. Though breathing seems to be an indispensable and a natural form of exercise, you need to understand and master the techniques to make the most of it towards not just being alive but feeling one

Body-Scanning

Body scanning is a special and unique opportunity for us to become mindful of our body. It allows the mind to become aware of hidden pain or discomfort in the body. It helps us to stay attuned to our physical needs and sensations. This is really helpful in taking better care of our bodies and make healthier decisions with sleep, food and exercise.

Mindscape

This means to become aware of your thoughts. Studies show that the brain uses 60% of energy to do simple activities, and this percentage increases when we try to focus really hard. 80 to 90% energy is consumed as we work each day. When we are so consumed by thinking on a daily basis, it becomes really hard to not let thoughts overpower us.

Thinking is the source of a problem. Negativity is the outcome of this source.

Wind Down

Living in the moment means to be present, in the now, feeling a deep connection with your mind and your body. This has to come with no distractions or negative emotions. That’s why we must wind down by asking your mind to be free. When we add breathing, body scanning and mindscaping, the mind has adapted( even if it’s only for 5 minutes) to let go of thoughts.

Full Article:


4 Basic Elements of the Mindfulness Practice


 BY MEDITATION BY AWARE


Kiran, Ravi. “4 Basic Elements Of The Mindfulness Practice.” Aware, 12 May 2017, awaremeditationapp.com/4-basic-elements-of-the-mindfulness-practice-mindfulness-facts/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article becuase sometimes in my practices I get lost, unaware of what to focus on or do, but this gives me 4 simple steps on how to better refine my practice keep myself on track. 

How to Incorporate the 5 Elements into Meditation Practice

An excerpt from How to Incorporate the 5 Elements into Meditation Practice by Rachelle Williams

Ayurveda recognizes five great elements, or pancha mahabhutas, representing the most important foundational aspects of nature and matter: space, air, fire, water, and earth. These natural elements are considered the building blocks of all material existence. Ayurveda also observes these same five elements within the human body and mind—as it exists in nature, it also exists within you. Everything in life is created with varying proportions of these five natural elements.


Here are a few of the qualities of each element:

1.

Space or akasha, is the subtlest of the elements. It is expansive, empty, and has no resistance. It is the source of all matter and houses the space within which it exists. It allows for growth and change to take place. It is the space between your cells, your breath, and your thoughts. 

2.

Air or vayu, is movable, changeable, light, dry, mobile, and dynamic. It represents the capacity for motion and gives flight to ideas or goals. Externally, it is seen as wind; internally, it is the movement of breath, circulation, and nerve impulses. 

3.

Fire or tejas, is hot, light, intense, powerful, and transformative. Externally, we see it as the sun or fire; internally, it drives digestion and cognitive processes. 

4.

Water or jala, is smooth, flowing, cool, and movable, and can be solid. It transports, connects, and provides protection and nourishment. Both your body and the planet are roughly 70 percent water.

5.

Earth orprithvi, is heavy, solid, stable, constant, and rigid. It represents all solid matter and the structure of the universe. Earth gives form to the human body and to all of creation.

Take a moment to observe and you will begin to notice these qualities all around you. The more you shift your attention and explore the elements, the more you will be able to understand and relate to the entire universe. The best way to start connecting with the five elements is to meditate on their natures.

Full Article:


How to Incorporate the 5 Elements into Meditation Practice


 BY Rachelle Williams


Williams, Rachelle. “How to Incorporate the 5 Elements into Meditation Practice.” The Chopra Center, 17 Oct. 2019, chopra.com/articles/how-to-incorporate-the-5-elements-into-meditation-practice.

President

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Rachel]

I enjoy this article because it offers another perspective on awareness and on practicing meditation. It is also a practical invitation to contemplate the interconnectedness of all things.

3 Components of Mindfulness & How They Impact Our Mood

An article from Technology for Mindfulness by Robert Plotkin​​

Mindfulness is a very broad term; there are so many aspects of mindfulness and so many different ways in which it can be practiced. With the rise in popularity of mindfulness, there have been more studies popping up about mindfulness and its benefits. One recent study set out to differentiate how different components of mindfulness impact us.


In this study, students aged 20-30 received mindfulness alerts on their smartphone 6x per day for 9 days. These alerts include things like questions about recent emotions, problems they encountered, and how mindful they had been. The questions were based on three dimensions of mindfulness:


  1. Present-Moment Attention
  2. Nonjudgmental Acceptance
  3. Acting with Awareness

Research findings discovered that each of these dimensions lead to different benefits for those practicing mindfulness.

1

Present-Moment Attention

This was the strongest predictor of increased positive emotions. The students who were more aware in the present moment indicated that they felt happier and better overall. Why might this be? When you allow your attention to wander it shifts to things like anticipation of future events or regrets about the past.


When you notice your mind wandering, try focusing on your breath or something in your current surroundings.

2

Nonjudgmental Acceptance

The ability to withhold judgments of your experiences and emotions was strongly linked to a decrease in negative emotions. This means not labeling your experiences as good or bad or placing labels on yourself and others around you and accepting everyone and everything around you for what they are.

Instead of thinking that person is annoying, change your mindset to something like this person has asked me 4 questions in the last two minutes and is making it difficult to complete my work. You’re still noting your emotions toward the person, but without judgment and without labels.

3

Acting with Awareness

Although you’ve probably seen mindfulness practices that ask us to do everything with intention and awareness, rather than on autopilot, this study actually discovered that acting with awareness has little to no ability to predict people’s positive or negative feelings.

So, if you want to feel more positive, keep your mind in the present moment. If you want to feel less negative, learn to accept without judgment.

Full Article:


3 Components of Mindfulness & How They Impact Our Mood


 BY Robert Plotkin


Plotkin, Robert. “3 Components of Mindfulness & How They Impact Our Mood.” Technology for Mindfulness, 6 Nov. 2019, technologyformindfulness.com/3-components-of-mindfulness-how-they-impact-our-mood/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

I chose this article because I enjoyed the concept and the fact that they were bringing the idea of mindfulness into the modern age. We are often told to just "be positive" which seems way easier said than done, but this article gives you steps to make that idea a reality. 

What Are The Component Skills Of Mindfulness?

An excerpt from The Stress Resilient Mind ​​by Glyn Blackette

The fundamental idea behind my approach to stress related problems such as anxiety is that what's needed is the skill-set of stress resilience: the ability to quickly and easily recover from set-backs and stressful events. Mindfulness is a key tool for training and developing such a skill-set, but it could also be seen as a skill in itself - even quite a high-level skill-set.


My approach to stress management is to consider what component skills (i.e. of the resilience skill-set) are lacking or need to be trained and developed. In particular I'm interested in what I call mind-body skills, which are to do with managing and regulating the mind-body connection.


If mindfulness is a high-level skill-set, what are the lower-level component skills that make it up? This article describes my thinking on this question.

Self-awareness

Well of course the foundation of mindfulness is self-awareness. This includes different aspects of our experience such as thoughts, images, feelings, sensations (body states), desires, urges, motivations and more. Of course there is awareness of emotions - I didn't put it in my initial list because it's quite a general and composite concept. Experience of emotion covers feelings and sensations in the body, also thinking patterns - both styles of thinking (e.g. racing thoughts) and lines of content (e.g. thoughts of revenge). Emotion also conditions focus or attention - how we pay attention, and to what.


All these things it's useful to be aware of. But a lot of people have blind spots - for example some people are "in their heads" - caught up in thoughts and oblivious to what's happening in their body. Mindfulness training can expand awareness into blind spots so that you can learn to respond more appropriately.

Emotional Literacy

Emotional literacy, or the ability to identify (name) emotions, is an aspect of self-awareness. Research shows that emotional literacy is beneficial (increases our well-being) in part because it helps improve our communication and build stronger relationships.

Imagination

Why would imagination be a part of mindfulness? Well, I don't mean imagination in the sense of fantasy, but just as a sense of what could be. Mindfulness doesn't try to fix everything down but is about openness to change, even curiosity. Knowing the sort of qualities that we can wonder, what would it feel like if ... - for example, what would it feel like if I were more relaxed? more vividly alert? What would it be like if my mind were like a mountain lake, clear and still and deep ...


When we question and wonder in this way, typically what happens is that an automatic or non-volitional part of the mind answers. What would it feel like for the shoulders to soften and loosen? - and as if by magic it happens. (By the way, I might add that I regularly see this happen with biofeedback clients, when we're working with muscle tension biofeedback. We don't just imagine the softening, it actually happens.)

This kind of imagination is the basis of the power of mindfulness to transform the mind.

Body Regulation

Mindfulness supports and is supported by balanced arousal. We want the body to be aroused enough that we feel alert and bright and lucid, not dull and sleepy, and yet not so aroused that we're agitated and anxious.

I'd like to mention a couple of sub-components of body regulation.

1. Ability to Fully Relax Muscles

It helps the mind to feel calm and steady and free if the body is too. Loosening muscles throughout the body allows the mind to calm down, and racing thoughts to quieten.

2. Ability to Breathe Optimally

Breathing is often the focus in mindfulness meditation - it's a rich field of experience that reflects (and is reflected in) the mind generally. Optimal breathing is part of the balanced arousal I've mentioned. Without going into details (of breathing physiology which I describe elsewhere), optimal breathing maximizes oxygen delivery to brain cells and can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which calms us. Optimal breathing creates helpful conditions for mindfulness.


Often we're instructed not to change the breathing in meditation. It's not that the breathing shouldn't change, but it's usually more effective if we can allow the body to change naturally and spontaneously, allow the breath to breathe itself. And it helps if we know what optimal breathing feels like.

Acceptance and Tolerance

Stress and distressing emotions, also painful sensations, is generally made worse when we internally resist or try to suppress these experiences. Of course it would be lovely if we could successfully get rid of unpleasant experiences but often we can't, at least not in the short term. Mindfulness involves noticing this resistance and letting go of it. That's what acceptance is: letting go of the internal struggle against unwanted aspects of your own experience.


Tolerance (as I'm using the term here) is very much related: it's the capacity to experience pain etc. without reacting and getting over-whelmed. Research suggests distress tolerance is a key component of well-being in general.


How do we let go? How can we train to get better at letting go? One part of the answer is to recognize that resistance manifests in the body as muscle tightening - as though we were bracing against some threat. This happens even when the perceived threat is nothing tangible but "merely" psychological. Noticing this physical tightening, and being able to relax muscles, creates the basis for the mental experience of letting go or acceptance.


In other words, acceptance or distress tolerance as a skill is founded on the underlying ability to regulate the body as I've described above.

Full Article:


What Are The Component Skills Of Mindfulness?


 BY GLYN BLACKETT


Blackett, Glyn. “Your Website Title.” What Are The Component Skills Of Mindfulness?, 2019, www.stressresilientmind.co.uk/articles/component-skills-mindfulness.

Account Associate

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[stacy]

Practicing self-awareness helps get rid of any negative habits that exist. As long one is aware of negative thoughts/emotions/actions, they can start to guide them into something more positive by working every day to be aware and grow as an individual.

Kristin Neff: The Three Components of Self-Compassion

The world's leading researcher of self-compassion and founder of the Mindful Self-Compassion program explains the core features of self-compassion.

Kristin Neff, Ph.D., is an associate professor in human development and culture at the University of Texas, Austin, and the author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself (William Morrow, 2011) and co-author of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook (Guilford, 2018).

Neff, Kristin. “Kristin Neff: Profile.” Greater Good, 2019, greatergood.berkeley.edu/profile/kristin_neff.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

 I chose this video because self-compassion is something that is often overlooked, and more difficult than one would think. Breaking it down into three components makes it not only easier to understand, but obtainable as well. 

Shauna Shapiro: The IAA Model of Mindfulness

Shauna Shapiro explains what she sees as the three core components to mindfulness: intention, attention, and attitude.

Shauna Shapiro, Ph.D., is a professor at Santa Clara University, a clinical psychologist, and internationally recognized expert in mindfulness. With 20 years of meditation experience studying in Thailand and Nepal, as well as in the West, Shapiro brings an embodied sense of mindfulness to her scientific work. She has published over 100 journal articles and book chapters, and co-authored the critically acclaimed book, The Art and Science of Mindfulness, as well as her recent co-authored book, Mindful Discipline: A Loving Approach to Setting Limits and Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child.

Dr. Shapiro is the recipient of the American Council of Learned Societies teaching award, acknowledging her outstanding contributions to education, and has been invited to lecture for the King of Thailand, the Danish government, and the World Council for Psychotherapy in Beijing, China. Her work has been featured in WiredUSA TodayOxygenThe Yoga Journal, and the American Psychologist.

Shapiro, Shauna. “Shauna Shapiro: Profile.” Shauna Shapiro Profile, Greater Good Magazine, 2019, greatergood.berkeley.edu/profile/shauna_shapiro.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this video because it speaks to me on a personal level. I thought the example of the beach day with her son was perfect testament to how a lot of us live our lives; With good intent that can sometimes be overshadowed by our lack of attention and attitudes. It is important to be aware of all of these elements in order to live a mindful lifestyle. 

Why Mindfulness is the Answer to Unconscious Bias

An excerpt from Why Mindfulness is the Answer to Unconscious Bias by John Davisi

We all have tales. We carry them around with us wherever we go, repeating them to ourselves and others over and over. TALE stands for:

T

Triggers

A

Assumptions

L

Limiting Beliefs

E

Expectations

Triggers are those buttons we all have inside us. For each button, there’s someone in our life who knows how to push it. When we’re triggered, we often have an emotional response that is more heightened than the situation warrants. Think about how you feel when you get cut off in traffic and you get my gist. But the key here is that those buttons have been in us well before the latest person showed up to push them. I know that when I’m triggered, it has very little to do with the other person. It’s an indicator of something I get to look at inside myself as an opportunity for learning, growing, and healing.

We make Assumptions about every person we come into contact with. You’ve been making assumptions about me while reading this article. But the truth is, most of our assumptions are based on past experiences, and have nothing to do with the person you are interacting with in the present moment. Surrendering those assumptions and focusing on the person in the present allow me to be open to understanding who they are and what they need. It invites a new possibility to reveal itself that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen.

We hold Limiting Beliefs about ourselves and others without ever having experienced them personally. These beliefs are often seeded in the conditioning we’ve received over the course of our lives from family, friends, religion, history, and societal pressures. When I notice a limiting belief inside myself, I ask myself the question, “How true is this for me and why do I believe it’s true?” I can then surrender it and return my attention and intention to the present moment interaction, with an openness and gratitude that the bias filter has been removed.


For every relationship label we assign to someone (romantic or not), we automatically have numerous expectations of that person in order for them to fit that mold and make us happy. We also have a list of Expectations we feel we need to fulfill for them. The minute one of us falls down on the job, we get triggered. When I take the space in the moment to understand what my expectations are, I tend to notice that I expect others to behave the way I would. If I’m judging someone because they aren’t doing something exactly the way I’d do it, I’m denying their skills and talents. I’m not seeing or hearing them. I’m also denying the opportunity for their individual gifts to positively impact me.

We may never be able to eliminate bias, but using mindfulness to take the space in the moment to understand our TALE’s helps us make our unconscious bias, conscious. Then we have the opportunity to make a different choice.

Full Article:


Why Mindfulness is the Answer to Unconscious Bias


 BY John Davisi


Davisi, John. "Why Mindfulness is the Answer to Unconscious Bias." Mindful Leader. 19 June 2019. 23 Sept. 2019 <https://www.mindfulleader.org/blog/26600-why-mindfulness-is-the-answer-to?utm_source=Mindful%2BLeader%2BNewsletter&utm_campaign=4dbe0d09ff-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_05_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fc20865065-4dbe0d09ff-183757629&mc_cid=4dbe0d09ff&mc_eid=25523fbc8c>.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[emily]

I chose this article because I think it is important to understand where our thoughts come from, whether we purposefully think them or not. Recognizing thoughts and feelings that we have and why we have them is the first step to getting them under control. 

Nine Essential Qualities of Mindfulness

An excerpt from Nine Essential Qualities of Mindfulness by Melanie Greenberg Ph.D

While most people seem to think that mindfulness is a good thing, many people are confused about what exactly mindfulness is. Does it involve emptying the brain of thoughts, inducing relaxation, or going into a trance? Do you have to go live in an ashram and retreat from the material world to practice it effectively?  Is it a kind of religion or cult, and is it potentially dangerous?  In fact, none of the above have been shown to be true. Below is a description of some key concepts that can help illuminate what it means to have a mindful attitude to life.

1.

Focus on the Present Moment—When your thoughts get lost in thinking about the past or worrying about the future, you bring them back to what you are experiencing right now. You try to remain open to how things unfold in the present, rather than having preconceived ideas about how things will or should turn out.

2.

Being Fully PresentYou are spaciously aware of whatever you are experiencing in the present moment as you go through your daily life. What do you feel in your body? What are you seeing, hearing, doing - right now?

3.

Openness to Experience—Rather than dreading and shutting out your own feelings and experiences because you think you can't handle them, you welcome with curiosity any thoughts and feelings that naturally arise, knowing they are merely sensations in the moment and the next moment can be different. You create mental spaciousness to contain these thoughts and feelings. Become aware of your experience as a flow of sensations, thoughts, and feelings and watch how these change and transform naturally over time.

4.

Non-Judgment—You don't categorize your thoughts and feelings as good or bad, try to change them, or feel compelled to act on them. All feelings have a purpose, whether to protect you from danger or open you to love. You watch and accept whatever arises in consciousness with an open mind. You extend this non-judging attitude to other people and things.

5.

Acceptance of Things as They Are—You don't try to force or change reality to fit your vision of what it should be, feel like a victim, or bemoan the unfairness of life. Instead, you try to see reality clearly and let it be as it is, knowing that you can tolerate whatever it is that comes up. You extend this acceptance to others, knowing they are the best judges of what is right for them.

6.

Connection—You feel connected to all living things and nature in being part of a larger whole. You reflect on and feel grateful for the cycle of life and the food, beauty, and protection that nature gives us. You know that all living beings want to feel happy and secure and avoid suffering and you feel connected by similarity of needs and experience.

7.

Non-Attachment—You do not try to hold onto things, people, or experiences, knowing that life is in constant flow. Attachment comes from fear and is the basis of suffering. You learn to surf the wave of life, going with the flow and being confident in your own ability to adapt. When one door closes, another opens.

8.

Peace and Equanimity—You maintain an even-keel, not getting too swept up in life's highs and lows. You know that life is a cycle and you can't see the whole picture at any one moment. When things don't go your way, you stay firmly rooted in your own clear vision and values. You walk with a peaceful heart and adopt a non-harming, non-violent attitude.

9.

Compassion—You deal gently, kindly, and patiently with yourself and others. Rather than judging, or condemning, you open your heart to really listen and try to understand your own and other people's experiences. You allow yourself to feel other people's suffering. You love people not for what they can give you or because you need something from them, but because you connect and empathize with their experiences.

With these concepts in mind, you can begin to introduce mindfulness into your own life, whether it is by deliberately directing attention to your breath and senses at different times during the day, taking a mindful nature walk, or beginning a simple meditation practice. You might want to center your attention on each in- and out-breath, noticing the length, quality, and sensations of the breath moving in and out of your body, without trying to force or change it in any way. You may also begin to become aware of the times in the day that you operate "mindlessly," and on automatic pilot, your head so busy with plans and worries, that you don't even notice what you feel inside or what is around you. 


Developing an observing mind that watches your own daily experience, notices your automatic patterns, and gently redirects attention to the present moment is the beginning of growing a "mindfulness muscle" to help you navigate the winds of change and stresses in your life. " As Eckhart Tolle so eloquently said: "Always say "yes" to the present moment. Surrender to what is. Say "yes" to life—and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you."

Full Article:


Nine Essential Qualities of Mindfulness


 BY Melanie Greenberg Ph.D.


Greenberg, Melanie. "Nine Essential Qualities of Mindfulness." Psychology Today. 22 Feb. 2012. Sussex Publishers. 27 Aug. 2019 <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201202/nine-essential-qualities-mindfulness>.

Director of Strategic Communications

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[nekiesha]

This article speaks to me because it lays out the practical, daily life benefits of mindfulness, while also dispelling common misconceptions—many of which I had. It drives home the point that mindfulness is not about

tuning out, but tuning in. 

Getting Started with Mindfulness

An excerpt from Getting Started with Mindfulness

What is mindfulness?

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.


While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis.


Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful. And there’s growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain.

The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes.

What is meditation?

Meditation is exploring. It’s not a fixed destination. Your head doesn’t become vacuumed free of thought, utterly undistracted. It’s a special place where each and every moment is momentous. When we meditate we venture into the workings of our minds: our sensations (air blowing on our skin or a harsh smell wafting into the room), our emotions (love this, hate that, crave this, loathe that) and thoughts (wouldn’t it be weird to see an elephant playing a trumpet).

Mindfulness meditation asks us to suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness, to ourselves and others.

How do I practice mindfulness and meditation?

Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, whether through meditations and body scans, or mindful moment practices like taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it.

VIDEO: “YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the research-backed stress-reduction program Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), explains how mindfulness lights up parts of our brains that aren’t normally activated when we’re mindlessly running on autopilot.

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally, and then I sometimes add, in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.”

- Jon Kabat-Zinn -

Full Article:


Getting Started with Mindfulness


 BY MINDFUL.ORG


Walsh, Kelle. "Getting Started with Mindfulness." Mindful. 2019. 31 July 2019 <https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/>.

President

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Rachel]

I chose this because it demonstrates simple, easy ways to get started with a practice, it shares the basics of what mindfulness is, and provides research on what's going on in the brain, for those of us interested in the science of it. 

The Importance of Connection

There are many benefits to exploring how we foster connection with the people in our lives. Regardless of profession, it is through our healthy connection with others that our most meaningful relationships occur. It is also our own mental footing, and how we prepare our minds, that sets the stage for the contributions we make as individuals to those relationships.


This week’s note is to highlight the element of connection as part of our 2019-2020 priority. We’ll explore the importance of connection, how we show up in our relationships, and how this is key in our opportunities to reach youth.


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