What is Mindfulness?

"Just Breathe" from wavecrest films on Vimeo.

Mindfulness means maintaining a present moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, or surrounding environment without getting distracted by your past or your future.
It also includes nurturing positive states of mind such as gratitude, kindness, and compassion.
Why Mindfulness?
Have you every struggled to pay attention only to find your mind wandering about something that has already happened or might happen in the future?  Have you every been so emotional you have said or done something you quickly regretted?  Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the day to day activities or stress in your life?  Mindfulness gives us time and space to observe our thoughts and emotions allowing us to respond instead of immediately reacting in stressful situations. It also helps us to rewire our brains to stay in the present moment and pay attention.
Today our children face so much in their daily lives and they need to be taught the tools to help them cope with everything going on around them.  Mindfulness can be a key element in helping our students thrive both academically and emotionally.  When Mindfulness is a daily practice it can have a huge impact on our lives with just a few minutes each day.
Where did Mindfulness Come From?
Mindfulness can be traced back thousands of years to ancient practices and traditions but the use and research of secular mindfulness based interventions began a little more than 30 years ago when Jon Kabat-Zinn began Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction to help patients to manage chronic pain, stress, anxiety, and depression.  Benefits of mindfulness are supported by over 30 years of research and include cognitive outcomes such as better focus and concentration, Social-emotional skills such as self regulation and compassionate attitudes and behavior, and overall well being benefits such as decreased stress, anxiety, and depression.  When we take just a moment to slow down and pay attention to what is happening in our body, mind, and environment, we can be aware and begin to take care of our selves and those around us.