What is Mindfulness?
Stress is the disease of the new millennium: everyone is stressed, and everyone feels unwell because of stress. We live in a world that moves fast, in demanding and competitive work environments, in a high-standard society, with new technologies that require us to be available 24/7, and we must deal with family problems, traffic, thoughts, and worries every single day.
The main sources of stress are the expectations we have for ourselves and the surrounding world: we want happy and perfect lives, safe and stable relationships, and satisfying jobs that value our skills. So we strive towards our happiness and desires, literally fight to keep everything under control, and to avoid obstacles and discomfort. Nevertheless, all of this is destined to become a constant source of stress. “Often, physical and psychological wellbeing depend on how people manage stress,” says Professor R.S. Lazarus “With the proper approach, stress can be kept under control, whereas physiological disorders and other forms of discomfort can be prevented.” Mindfulness is an excellent support in cases like these. Mindfulness is a state of awareness, it is mental presence that helps in “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 63).
We ignore the present moment in favor of what is yet to come, and lack self-awareness. Mindfulness helps to focus on the present, to stop worrying about the past, and stop feeling anxious about the future.
Mindfulness helps us learn to be present in every moment of our life, be in control of ourselves, and pause when life ploughs ahead without us being aware of it. Mindfulness helps self-questioning, becoming familiar with the processes of our mind, and coming into contact with a new way of knowing ourselves. With Mindfulness we can learn to observe our experiences more intensely, recognize our sources of stress, respond in a more balanced way, and cultivate better attention and acceptance of ourselves, without insisting on impossible goals, or criticizing ourselves.
Mindfulness programs have a strong therapeutic power, which science is also now studying. No specific problem is necessary to benefit from Mindfulness: we can all become more self-aware, live fully in the present moment, and deal with life’s challenges in the best possible way.
Teacher of Mindfulness-based clinical protocols
At UPMC Institute for Health a Mindfulness Program is available.
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