Mindfulness

Last week, I introduced concentrative meditation through guided imagery. Today, I’ll introduce mindfulness meditation with this TEDx Talk by Dr. Shauna Shapiro. Before you click, I want to preface that this video is 13 minutes and 45 seconds, and I want you to practice mindfulness while you watch it. In other words, I want you to practice being present with and being attentive of the video and Dr. Shapiro’s message.

Did you find, like Dr. Shapiro herself said in the video, that your mind wandered while listening and watching? That’s okay. What did you think to yourself when your attention faltered? As I posited last week, I hope you said something nonjudgmental to yourself, like, “Oh. I thought of [blank]. That’s interesting,” and brought yourself back to the present moment of watching and listening. If your message to yourself was indeed judgmental, that’s okay as well; non-judgment is as much a practice as meditation itself. But with practice, you’ll get better at it (or stronger, in Dr. Shapiro’s words). Try a nonjudgmental thought next time you practice mindfulness.

If you’ve been following along with this series, you’ve actually incorporating mindfulness in everything we’ve discussed so far. When breathing, the exercise demanded mindfulness of you, even though it was not stated in these terms. When learning to progressively relaxing the muscles groups of the body, you had to concentrate fiercely on each cycle. Even during guided imagery, which is more concentrative meditation, you had to be mindful of the vocal prompts. Eventually, you’ll be able to be mindful in any situation and environment, a comparable end goal to that of applied relaxation.

Before I entered university, I played the piano and violin intensively. Perhaps that is not best description. It is more accurate to say that I was supposed to practice my instruments intensively, but in actuality, I would struggle with paying attention. I would tell myself, just do this for an hour, a good hour, and then you can go do something else. Despite this, I would pause here and there, if just to fidget. However, it is not about the time. It is more about the quality of the attention within the time. Though I made note of the timespan of the video in my third sentence of this post, that was to bring awareness that attention spans really are short. I’ve learned now that that’s okay. As long as your attention was sharp and keen for however long, you’ve practiced mindfulness.

This week, pick an activity, anything really, and do it mindfully. Tell me how it goes in the comments, or at your next appointment.

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