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Mindfulness is the engine of wellness.
That was my take away after I completed an initial investigation toward understanding the credo of those that espouse conscious living. Mindfulness is not easily understood by looking at its many definitions, all attempts at clarifying a concept for which true understanding comes from mastery.
Mindfulness: "The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis" - Merriam-Webster Dictionary
This sounds all well and good, but how can any of us really know what this is until we try it? Ultimately words will not do.
For the last couple of years the team at Future Health has focused on finding safe paths through difficult places in our minds. I have been exposed to many examples where self-affirmation is an important method of taking control of your life. Diet and exercise are prime examples where you need to believe intrinsically that "you can do it" in order to maintain dedication to your own success. When I began looking into mindfulness I came into it with the assumption that I knew what it was. It was some form of positive thinking or willful mind mapping to make happiness and success a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe fervently in this and very much want to bring this awareness to our members. I want to help provide them with the power to endure the adoption of new healthy behaviors and lifestyle changes that can initially be challenging to embark upon in the face of contrary habit or even addiction. I have many facts and even some great techniques to accomplish this acquired from various doctors, neurologists, psychologists I've interviewed and seminars I've attended while doing research for our videos. I was eager to speak to practitioners of mindfulness to be able to flesh out a program I could offer to our members. What I found surprised me.
Mindfulness is not positive thinking.
This fact was brought to my attention very quickly as I spoke with Dr. Shalini Bahl at Downtown Mindfulness in Amherst. I was introduced to her by Thom Fox, the star of our Depression video and my friend. Thom told me Dr. Bahl was an amazing resource for him and had a deep meaningful understanding of how our minds need to be freed from distractions to achieve a healthier life. Dr. Bahl invited me into her center which was surrounded with soothing imagery and comfortable seating with mats and pillows for meditation as well as a conference table for more intense learning. This struck me as a very intriguing contrast between the intellectual and spiritual as I walked in. As we began to talk and exchange backgrounds I was immediately impressed by her balance and poise. This is a mindfulness person I thought to myself. She has the calm confidence of someone who knows who she is and what her place is in the grand scheme of things. She is looking and really listening to me and not wrapped up in herself as so many I've met are. Dr. Bahl passed my first impression test. She is a natural healer and has a powerful guiding presence. As we spoke I mentioned my preconceived notions of the power of positive thinking and it was then Dr. Bahl corrected me on the true nature of Mindfulness.
"Just saying it's going to be a good day or everything will be alright isn't enough. You have to actually believe it for the self-affirmation to work. Mindfulness is not just casting words into the wind and hoping they will come true. Mindfulness is waking up from living on autopilot and starting to notice what is happening in your inner and outer world. By learning to pause and notice your habitual patterns, with the attitude of kindness and curiosity, you are creating conditions to choose differently and live skillfully. Mindfulness develops emotional intelligence. It comes with practice and is the result of your calm clear mind."
The afternoon I spent with Dr. Bahl was a great first step on my quest to creating a mindfulness component to offer to Future Health members. I discovered that the journey is entirely in your own mind. Mindfulness techniques and practitioners like Dr. Bahl guide you but impose no world views or spiritual beliefs. Those you carry with you and integrate into your own process toward emotional intelligence. Mindfulness is used by schools, universities, private employers and countless others the world over to improve attention, understanding and social interactions. It helps in the battle with addiction and provides the underlying mental strength to excel in life. Let me share with you a little of how it's done, but first I want you to know that mindfulness for many is not an easy thing to self-learn, as in many ways it's more about unlearning the way you currently think. It goes against your long ingrained habits and is a process that benefits from the guidance of someone like Dr. Bahl from Downtown Mindfulness.
So how can you try Mindfulness?
As you can see mindfulness is not about striving for a specific goal. It's merely a way to better strengthen our mental immune system so it responds with strength and health when we do need to reach for goals. Mindfulness should be a part of your daily exercise routine. It's exercise for your mind.
To learn more visit:
Future Health is currently working to develop an interactive mindfulness program for our members. Look for more great mindfulness resources here soon.