Addison Community Schools

Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health for MS/HS

April 26, 2020

Understanding Mindfulness

As defined at greatergood.berkeley.edu:


Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

Big picture

Here are a few key components of practicing mindfulness that Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, and others identify:

  • Pay close attention to your breathing, especially when you’re feeling intense emotions.

  • Notice—really notice—what you’re sensing in a given moment, the sights, sounds, and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching your conscious awareness.

  • Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and do not define you, an insight that can free you from negative thought patterns.

  • Tune into your body’s physical sensations, from the water hitting your skin in the shower to the way your body rests in your office chair.

  • Find “micro-moments” of mindfulness throughout the day to reset your focus and sense of purpose.

Research reviewed and compiled by Daphne M. Davis, PhD, and Jeffrey A. Hayes, PhD

  • Reduced rumination.
  • Stress reduction.
  • Boosts to working memory.
  • Focus.
  • Less emotional reactivity.
  • More cognitive flexibility.
  • Relationship satisfaction.

Examples of Mindfulness Exercises provided by Mayoclinic.org

There are many simple ways to practice mindfulness. Some examples include:

  • Pay attention. It's hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world. Try to take the time to experience your environment with all of your senses — touch, sound, sight, smell and taste. For example, when you eat a favorite food, take the time to smell, taste and truly enjoy it.
  • Live in the moment. Try to intentionally bring an open, accepting and discerning attention to everything you do. Find joy in simple pleasures.
  • Accept yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend.
  • Focus on your breathing. When you have negative thoughts, try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute can help.


You can also try more structured mindfulness exercises, such as:

  • Body scan meditation. Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides, palms facing up. Focus your attention slowly and deliberately on each part of your body, in order, from toe to head or head to toe. Be aware of any sensations, emotions or thoughts associated with each part of your body.
  • Sitting meditation. Sit comfortably with your back straight, feet flat on the floor and hands in your lap. Breathing through your nose, focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. If physical sensations or thoughts interrupt your meditation, note the experience and then return your focus to your breath.
  • Walking meditation. Find a quiet place 10 to 20 feet in length, and begin to walk slowly. Focus on the experience of walking, being aware of the sensations of standing and the subtle movements that keep your balance. When you reach the end of your path, turn and continue walking, maintaining awareness of your sensations.

Resources

Resources for Teens


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line:
text VOICE to 20121

Disaster Distress Helpline:
1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746

National Child Abuse Hotline:
1-800-422-4453