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Learning about Mindfulness

Posted Jan 16 2013 12:00am
I was introduced to the idea of mindfulness in a NAMI course called, "Peer-to-Peer," back in 2009, when I became certified to mentor the course with peers who also live in recovery from mental illness. We performed an exercise of observation- I won't go into detail because I do not want to ruin the experience for those of us who will participate in the class.

My understanding of mindfulness from friends is it revolves around the idea of focusing on the present moment. Concentration on breathing patterns coincides with the habit of mindfulness. In fact, I have a couple of friends who practice mindfulness. One friend studies it in a class setting while the other performs extensive research alone, and uses it occasionally. Also, I've heard from others who engage in some forms and practices of Buddhism that they also exercise mindfulness. Each of these individuals also live with mental illness. Because it seems popular among the mental health community I am interested in it as another coping skill.

Although I have little understanding of mindfulness I tried to practice its form of observing in the present moment and deep breathing. A couple of nights ago I did a brief mindfulness exercise or my understanding of it. As I was sitting in front of my laptop I stopped working on it and closed my eyes. I concentrated on the sounds around me, the laptop and refrigerator dominated the sounds of my environment. I took a few deep breaths and realized I was tired- mentally and physically- I told myself I needed a break. Therefore, I called it quits, temporarily for the few hours while I slept. I know there is more to mindfulness than that so I did some research to have a better understanding of the practice.

I learned that mindfulness is based on Buddhist philosophy and was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn who is "a famous teacher of mindfulness meditation and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center."

In fact, his definition of mindfulness: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

In the beginning the practice was used to help people with a range of medical problems, however, it is not only for people who have illnesses, it can be used to help improve the quality of life for everyone.

Mindfulness incorporates a range of principles and activities
  • Acceptance
  • Breathing
  • Consciousness
  • Non-judgmental attitude
  • Observation
  • Present tense
  • Stretching
  • Yoga
After learning more about mindfulness I would like to learn to practice it the right way to take advantage of its full benefit.

Here is where I received my information on mindfulness:

How familiar are you with mindfulness? How were introduced to the practice? Do you practice it regularly, if so, why?- What does it do for you?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind , NAMI , Choices in Recovery , or Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).
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