#79 Mindfulness

Have you heard of it?

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that brings your senses to the present and quiets the mind. Grown from traditional buddhist meditation practice, it has been brought to the west by teachers like Thich Nhat Hanh, a buddhist monk who has written many books on the subject, and Jon Kabbat Zin who is a professor of medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School.

I first started practicing a similar kind of meditation in 1996 directly after I broke my back, and found it was helpful for my pain, though really hard to stay disciplined with home practice... Now there are many scientific studies that have examined the use of mindfulness to treat chronic pain patients with good effect and it is widely used in hospitals to treat chronic pain, stress and depression.

The most basic form of mindfulness-meditation is that you sit comfortably and calm down, pay attention to your breathing for a few minutes, then focus on the auditive, visual and sensory signals in the present moment one by one:

1. Focus your attention on the sounds you hear around you, choose one sound especially, preferably a beautiful sound, and try to let that one sound fill you entire mind while you breathe slowly in and out.
After a short while you change focus to visual:

2. Open your eyes, and rest your eyes on an object, preferably something that you enjoy watching. Observe every single aspect of that object and concentrate solely on that.
After a while change focus again:

3. Close your eyes again and find a sensory signal in your body that is comfortable (find a place in your body that doesn't hurt...can be difficult sometimes, but it may help by placing your hand on your arm or thigh and stroking it gently)

And there, you're done. If you want to learn more in depth, check out this video, it's a mindfulness meditation class with Jon Kabbat Zin.

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