mindfulMost likely, you have heard of meditation. Possibly you even tried it after reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love or hearing from a friend or family member about how calm and tranquil they’ve felt since beginning their practice.

There are several types of meditation, and mindfulness meditation is one. If there is a modern day father of mindfulness meditation it is Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medial Center. The program aims to help patients manage pain, disease, and stress with the help of mindfulness meditation. It is an eight-week course that includes a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and yoga to help people become more mindful. And that is the foundation of mindfulness meditation—becoming more mindful in our every moment.

The idea behind mindfulness meditation is to observe your own thoughts in the present without judgment. Not to gloss over them, not to meditate into a blank mind, but to let them come and go without judgment. With practice, the goal is that individuals will be able to see how their thoughts and feelings can have a tendency to move in particular patterns. Eventually living fuller, healthier, more internally connected lives.

Mindfulness meditation involves a daily commitment to meditate. The benefits of mindfulness meditation are continually being studied and documented. Much of that research has suggested that the practice can be very helpful with depression, anxiety, and stress.

Sound intriguing? Here are a few ideas and resources to get you started:

Download a Mindfulness App

Especially for beginners, a guided meditation can be very helpful to keeping you on track. There are many apps that provide different lengths of meditations with various instructors. There are also several mindfulness podcasts that can talk you through the basics. Having some sort of guidance as you get started and begin your practice will be important if you’re committed to this internal work.

Purchase a Mindfulness book

If you’re more of a reader than a listener, a book about mindfulness meditation may be perfect for you. Dr. Kabat-Zinn has written several great books including Full catastrophe living: how to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation and Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. You can also have a zoom around Amazon to read reviews of other books that help teach you the practice.

Find a Mindfulness practitioner near you

There are many therapists and teachers who teach and practice meditation and mindfulness. If mindfulness meditation is something you’re enjoying or would like to delve further into, there are many practitioners willing to help guide you along the way

Find a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction program near you

A simple web search of MBSRC and your city, state, or country will lead to countless results for programs similar to the one at UMass. If the abundance of programs is any indication of their worth, you can rest assured they are a valuable resource and experience.

–Amanda Oliver


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