Tools for Living

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Tools for Living

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Mindfulness as tools for living provides the tangible, practical and effective ways to live in the present moment with greater awareness, attention and intention. Mindfulness is an ongoing, daily practice which provides the foundation for your way of being in the world that can be applied to everything you. Mindfulness is very easy – it is simply using your breath to root you to this moment and let go of the past, future and incessant chatter that is clouding you from being fully present in your life. Remembering to breathe and practice – that is the key!

What is Mindfulness?
The Foundation of a Mindfulness Practice.
The Benefits of a Mindfulness Practice.
How to Practice Mindfulness.

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What is Mindfulness?

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Mindfulness is about meeting yourself where you are at and welcoming whatever is arising in the moment with openness and acceptance. This spaciousness allows you to notice what is and see things as “this, just this.” Not every problem needs to get solved. Not every situation necessitates over-dramatic inquiry. And not every negative emotion needs to be quickly swept away. By creating space and allowing your process to just be, allows it to continue to pass and run its natural course. When we hold onto things we get caught up, stuck and overly attached, all of which ultimately cause us suffering. But when are being mindful we learn to honor what is coming in, mindfully notice, allow and give it space, and then we let it go. It is then, in that skillful release, that we begin to experience peace, contentment and freedom. When practicing mindfulness there is no goal we are trying to achieve; there is no magical place or sensation we are striving to attain. Mindfulness truly is about the process and being awake to your life; the journey is the destination.

Mindfulness offers tools for living your optimal life. The greater ability you have to be present and aware – of yourself, your body, your thoughts, your emotions, the people around you, your choices, your intentions, the past or the future, your natural intuition, or whatever is arising in the moment – the more you are living consciously and authentically. This allows you to be in greater relationship to whatever arises in the moment and helps you live with greater presence, peace, calm and joy.

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Mindfulness is the practice of living your life with greater awareness, attention and intention. It is rooted in developing a deep connection to your breath, which continually draws you back into your present moment experience. When being mindful, you cultivate a non-judgmental attitude towards yourself and others, and strive towards demonstrating greater compassion for all beings.

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The Foundation of a Mindfulness Practice

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here are many psychological approaches and physical practices that are cornerstone to understanding, cultivating and maintaining a mindfulness practice. Sometimes these mental shifts may be contrary to your habitual way of thinking or being, and they may feel challenging to incorporate. No need to let that stop you; meet yourself where you are at – be kind, be patient, be open to the process and in time, and with practice, you will be able to integrate mindfulness into your life and be able to reap the multitude of benefits.

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Click Each Word Below to Read the Description

  • Breath
    The foundation of a mindfulness practice is developing a connection to your breath. Each inhalation and exhalation naturally roots you to the present moment, inherently bringing you back to the here and now. Focusing on your breath allows for the opportunity to respond and not react, and decide with intention how to proceed. Coming back to your breath gives space in between those moments of compulsivity or reactivity and helps you break unskillful, habitual patterns by bringing awareness to your present moment experience. The breath also provides many natural healing qualities, such as decreasing heart rate, re-oxygenating the brain and allowing relief from physical symptoms. As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “as long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you.”
  • Being Present
    Being in the here and now is a cornerstone to this practice. Often we get stuck ruminating on the past or fearing the future, both of which cause us suffering in the present. However, when you are able to be cognizant of this moment, you recognize that it is the only moment that you actually have control over, the only moment that matters. Where are you? Here! What time is it? Now!
  • Awareness
    Being mindful is simply about being aware. It is awarness of what is going on inside of you, both mentally and emotionally, as well as what is going on around you. Too often we move through life unaware of what we are doing and eventually ask ourselves, “How did I get here?” When practicing mindfulness we strive towards heightening our awareness so we can be an awake and active participant in our own life.
  • Attention
    Paying attention is an essential component of mindfulness. The object of your attention can be constantly shift; there is no hierarchy to what you are supposed to be paying attention to. It could be focusing on your breath, being aware of your thoughts, heightening your experience of your senses or simply noticing where your mind’s attention is at in the present moment. It is not the object of your attention that is important, it is in the attending itself that matters.
  • Intention
    Setting intentions allows you to connect your thoughts with your actions. We often don’t stop to consider why we are doing the things that we do, which continues us down a path of mindlessness. Setting an intention is putting a plan or action into place with conscious and purposeful awareness. Living with congruency between your thoughts and our actions allows you to live authentically and mindfully.
  • Non-judgmental
    When being mindful we strive to view ourselves in a non-judgmental way. This means developing the compassion for yourself in believing you are doing the best that you can and that each moment is a new opportunity to practice living with presence and intention. The more you are able to feel compassion towards yourself, rather than judge, the more inclined you are to feel compassion for others, rather than judge others.
  • Gratitude
    Practicing gratitude can be an antidote to almost anything. It is hard to stay mad, angry, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed or anxious when you can find something to be grateful for. When you have an attitude of gratitude you create a mental and emotional shift from focusing on the negative to choosing to focus on the positive. You are what you think: the more you focus on negative thoughts it actually strengthens those neural connections and imprints that negativity further into your implicit way of being. However, neuroscientists have discovered when you focus on gratitude and choose to focus on the positive and what you are grateful for, you are actually strengthening that positivity into your neural structure, thus rewiring your brain towards happiness. So, it doesn’t just make you feel good when thinking about something you are grateful for, but it actually benefits you on a neural level.
  • Compassion
    Compassion is the practice of caring about the welfare of all beings. When we operate from a place of deeper sympathy and empathy, compassion emerges, and we experience a greater level of connectivity with those around us. We also begin to recognize that separateness does not really exist as we all share a common, human experience. Practicing self-compassion is caring deeply about yourself, being kind to yourself and giving yourself credit and acknowledgment for all that you have gone through. When we honor that “this is hard” and rest in the knowledge that we generally are doing the best that we can, we can accept our own message of compassion.
  • Friendliness to Self
    We are often our own worse critics; we would never think of talking to our friends the way that we talk to ourselves in our head. When cultivating a mindfulness practice we strive to treat ourselves with friendliness, kindness and love. Once we experience greater friendliness to self, you develop deeper self-compassion, and are able to honor and appreciate your path. The goal is to be gentle and accepting to yourself and the practice is to be with yourself in a non-judgmental way.
  • Trust
    Trust is the practice of intuitively knowing that life is unfolding exactly as it is supposed to. Even when there are bumps, curves or detours in your path, you trust that everything is happening for a reason. It requires acceptance, patience and faith in the order of the universe. That can sometimes be difficult, especially through difficult times, however, relying on trust can provide peace and comfort when you may otherwise feel helpless or hopeless.
  • Allowing
    When being mindful, we allow space for whatever is arising. Allowing your experiences to exist with openness helps you to relate to the present moment without judgment, expectation or attachment. It’s as if you are watching what’s occurring in or around you and relating in an objective way, without getting overly caught up. You don’t always need to judge, analyze or change what is emerging; the practice is simply just to allow and let it be.
  • Letting Go
    Nothing in life is permanent and the most constant thing is change, so we practice the art of letting go. When you let go of expectations, thoughts, or habits that are no longer serving you, then you experience freedom. Additionally, when you learn to let go of attachments to the ways you thought your life “should” be and accept the way your life is actually is, the more you are able to find peace. This does not mean that letting go is giving in – it is not sitting back and succumbing to live with resentment; you still must be active participants in your life. The mindful moment comes when you recognize that you are getting caught up, and you can make the conscious choice to let go. There is also faith in knowing you are exactly where you are supposed to be and that life is unfolding as it should, and letting go is part of your path and process.
  • Beginner’s Mind
    To see the world with a beginner’s mind is to look at each moment anew. The practice is let go of old stories, expectations, or judgments as they relate to your present moment experience. This moment is new; it has never happened before. Even if may look similar as yesterday, it is not the same, and even you are not the same as you were yesterday. Bringing these old attachments or expectations to the existing moment, blinds you from seeing what actually is. When being mindful, strive to be fully open in any given situation as if you are experiencing it for the first time.
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Benefits of a Mindfulness Practice

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Mindfulness is rooted in ancient wisdom practice and over time has found its place in secular Western society. This time tested practice, now being backed by current medical science, is being recognized as a benefit in many areas of our modern culture. For example, mindfulness is being used in healthcare as a tool for becoming a more integrated partner in your own health. It is also being utilized in the military as a way to teach an increase attention and focus, while decreasing stress and anxiety for those on active tour, as well as a method for treating PTSD for veterans returning home. Mindfulness programs are being created in school systems as a way of cultivating social and emotional development for kids. And mindfulness is being practiced by many major US companies; it is recognized that when practicing mindfulness and allowing time in the day to slow down and connect with yourself, your productivity actually improves, as well as your morale. Additionally there are many benefits that mindfulness has on our brain. Mindfulness and meditation is often cited as one of the major ways to live a longer, happier life. Studies show that after practicing mindfulness, people experience more calm and contentment, and a reduction in stress and anxiety. And by focusing on gratitude, we actually have the ability to rewire our brains towards happiness. Overall benefits of cultivating and maintaining a mindfulness practice include:

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  • decrease in anxiety, stress and depression
  • increase in feelings of peace, calm, joy and contentment
  • higher levels of happiness
  • increased mind/body connection
  • reduction of physical medical symptoms and diagnoses
  • lower blood pressure
  • improved executive functioning
  • easier ability to fall and stay asleep
  • increase in decision making
  • improvements in quality of relationships
  • lower bullying instances in school settings
  • higher test scores for students
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