Heart and Mindfulness


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Mindfulness and Meditation

What is it? As the benefits of this particular mode of meditation practice become more widespread there is increasing use of the word ‘mindfulness’, often used to simply mean ‘paying attention’. However, in a therapeutic training context there are additional nuances and qualities.  One definition of mindfulness is:

‘’The awareness that emerges through paying attention in a particular way,

on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally,

to the unfolding of experience moment by moment”

(Jon Kabat-Zinn)

It is a quality we all experience as a ‘state’ from time to time, and it is also a skill we can cultivate through being taught mindfulness meditation, which leads to mindfulness and its inherent attributes (such as kindness, patience and curiosity*) becoming a trait.

Mindfulness can be viewed as a multifaceted construct consisting of five related dimensions** which develop with practice (see in italics below reference if of interest to you)

*The seven attitudinal foundations of mindfulness are non-judging, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance and letting go: described by Jon Kabat-Zinn as the “major pillars of mindfulness practice” (Full Catastrophe Living, 2004), these qualities of heart and mind bring an essential attitudinal approach to practice, and are naturally cultivated through practice itself. They can also be consciously developed as a way of reinforcing and deepening mindfulness practice and integrating it further in daily life.

**Baer R. A., Smith G. T., Hopkins J., Krietemeyer J., & Toney L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13, 27–45.

  1. Observing refers to noticing or attending to internal and external experiences (e.g., sounds, breath, emotions, thoughts, bodily sensations, smells).
  2. Describing includes the ability to express in words one’s experiences.
  3. Acting with Awareness involves attending to one’s present moment activity, rather than being on “autopilot” or behaving automatically while attention is focused elsewhere.
  4. Non-judging of Inner Experience involves allowing/accepting and not evaluating thoughts and emotions (e.g., as “good” or “bad”).
  5. Non-reactivity to inner experience refers to the ability to notice and step back from thoughts and emotions, allowing them to come and go without getting involved in or carried away by them.