Mindfulness Practices

I am inviting you to go deeper, to learn and to practice so that you become someone who has a great capacity for being solid, calm, and without fear, because our society needs people like you who have these qualities, and your children, our children, need people like you, in order to go on, in order to become solid, and calm, and without fear. Thich Nacht Hanh

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The Capacity for Being Solid

Thich Nacht Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and peace activist, has been teaching, writing about, and promoting mindfulness around the world for nearly fifty years. His teachings lie at the core of mindfulness movements in the United States in recent decades. He says that to be mindful is to be solid. To be solid is to become fully alive. Most of us live more or less in a state of "fading." Our minds are not in the present moment but in the past or in the future. When we are not solid, we are not fully alive in this moment.

When was the last time you didn't feel....
   Stressed?
   Distracted?
   Anxious?
   Unsatisfied?
   Exhausted?
   Forgetful?
   Overwhelmed?
   Spread Too Thin?

We can't all be Buddhist monks. So how can we live solid, mindful lives within the constraints of modern society? We do it one person at a time, one family at a time, one child at a time. Mindful living is not just for adults who are too harried, though they need it too. More and more, mindfulness philosophies and practices are entering our schools. If we want a mindful and peaceful society, it really start with kids!

Kids and Mindfulness

Susan Kaiser Greenland is one of the most outspoken proponents of bringing mindfulness into the schools. Her book, The Mindful Child, is a guide for teachers, administrators, and parents. Kaiser Greenland is also the founder of the Inner Kids Program affiliated with the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA.

If you are a teacher, an administrator, a school counselor, or a parent, you will want to take the time to learn more about bringing mindfulness practices and philosophies to our children. Check out these and other resources cited below.

The Lovingkindness Blessing

Along with the movement toward mindfulness is a strong component of learning the capacity for lovingkindness for ourselves, for each other, and for our planet. In the context of mindfulness, lovingkindness is cultivated, practiced, and extended to ourselves and others with intention. It is not just a goal, but a way of life and a way toward healing.

A Traditional Buddhist Prayer

May I be at peace.
May my heart remain open.
May I realize the beauty of my own true nature.
May I be healed.
May I be a source of healing for this world.

Mindfulness and Mental Health

Increasingly, mindfulness treatments are being incorporated into our health care system. Still considered an "alternative" strategy by most health care providers, the trend is toward mainstreaming this tool. For instance, mindfulness practices have had great success in treating patients during pre- and post-surgery and in cases of chronic illness, pain management and palliative care.

Mindfulness is becoming a common practice in mental health care for stress reduction and treatment of anxiety, relationship counseling, trauma healing, grief counseling, depression, impulse control, and more. When a therapist uses mindfulness techniques along with questions like, "How does that make you feel," both client and therapist can much more readily tap into emotions and patterns of thinking and behavior that keep a client stuck.

Robert Fisher, a marriage and family therapist demonstrates how mindfulness can open a door to feelings "in real time" that may have plagued a client for years (Click for the entire article: How mindfulness and psychotherapy work together).

Find this article and tons of other information on the
MINDFUL.ORG website.

For instance, I noticed that “Emily,” who came to therapy to explore why she was not in a relationship, would look at the carpet or the ceiling, but rarely at me when she talked in session. In a gentle, curious and inviting way, I called her attention to this. I noticed this fairly mundane, but powerful fact of how she related in the moment. Asking her to mindfully explore what it was like to look at me (in real time) and then to look away provided rich information into the fears she had about intimacy and men in particular; information that was very impactful and meaningful to the client.

Mindfulness in the Treatment of ADHD

The treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with mindfulness strategies is receiving increasing focus in research studies and in practical application with both children and adults.

Lidia Zylowska, MD, is a psychiatrist specializing in mindfulness-based approaches to health, and the author of The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goals. According to Zylowska individuals with ADHD have a restless body and a busy or restless mind.

With frequent jumps in thinking, the content of ADHD mind may sometimes look like a disorganized closet and sometimes like a zigzaggy road that ultimately reaches a novel insight. Sometimes the content of the ADHD mind is out of balance or skewed. For example, the thinking may be overly optimistic or overly pessimistic.... Mindfulness first invites us to watch or witness the flow of thinking. Instead of being caught up in the narrative in our head, we are invited to observe our thinking as an everchanging stream, similar to watching clouds float across the sky. This shift in perspective weakens the grip of unhelpful thinking.

Check out these audio file meditations from Zylowska's book The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD:

Mind Like a Sky Meditation Mind Like a Sky Meditation (7307 KB)

Mindful Presence Meditation Mindful Presence Meditation (9504 KB)

Loving Kindness Meditation Loving Kindness Meditation (6958 KB)