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Learn about our evidence-based mindfulness classes and events
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Mindfulness practice, rooted in ancient practices of attention training, reduces stress, cultivates attention and expands awareness. It teaches us to observe ourselves and situations with calmness, clarity and presence. Using mindfulness, we can quietly tap into our inner life in the midst of a busy world, and be in wise relationship with our thoughts, emotions, and with others. We can become less reactive, and have improved health and well-being.
When mindfulness is practiced regularly, it teaches us to acknowledge our thoughts objectively and with kindness, to notice what is happening in the body, and to come back to the breath as a centering anchor.
A growing body of research demonstrates that mindfulness can not only reduce stress and anxiety, but also foster emotional regulation, impulse control, and increased positive states such as awareness, empathy, perspective-taking, gratitude, happiness, and overall social-emotional intelligence. Practicing mindfulness can build new neural pathways in the brain that increase attention skills, affecting the prefrontal cortex, the seat of attention which is responsible for executive function and working memory.
Three-Minute Breathing Space
Find a comfortable position, with your head, neck and spine aligned and comfortable, and, if you wish, close your eyes, or allow your gaze to shift slightly downward.
And let’s begin by simply starting to notice what is here for us, right now. So maybe just ask yourself “what is my experience right now.” Notice any thoughts … notice any emotions you have … or any sensations in your body. Not trying to change anything here, not trying to get anywhere, just notice and take inventory. You may even tell yourself, “whatever my experience is…it is already here … just let me feel it.”
*Allow some silence for them to notice what is present—spending about one minute total on this part*
And now, let me invite you to gather your attention and notice your breath. Focus all of your attention on your breathing. Notice the air going in and out of the nostrils in your nose. Notice your abdomen moving up and down as you breathe. Just take a moment to FEEL the breath... …And as your mind wanders off, gently bring your attention back to your breathing as best you can. Use the breath as an anchor to center yourself in the present moment….
*Again, allow for some silence- spending one minute here*
And now, expand your attention to be aware of your entire body…So, perhaps as you breathe in….visualize the air filling your entire body….move from your head, down to your chest….to your abdomen…. all the way down to your toes. …Sense your entire presence and being in this moment….
*Allow for silence and spend one minute here*
And when you are ready, slowly and gently bring your awareness back to the room, back to present…and at your own pace, open your eyes slowly. And as you slowly come back into the room….notice what you are feeling…..and notice how you are…..alert…awake….calm….relaxed….whatever you are feeling, that is what is happening right now….for you.
I’m going to go around the class and give each of you a few objects.
Now what I would like you to do is focus on one of the objects and just imagine that you have never seen anything like it before.
Imagine you have just dropped in from Mars this moment and you have never seen anything like it before in your life.
Taking one of these objects and holding it in the palm of your hand, or between your finger and thumb. (Pause)
Paying attention to seeing it. (Pause)
Looking at it carefully, as if you had never seen such a thing before. (Pause)
Turning it over between your fingers, (Pause)
Exploring its texture between your fingers. (Pause)
Examining the highlights where the light shines … the darker hollows and folds. (Pause)
Letting your eyes explore every part of it, as if you had never seen such a thing before. (Pause)
And if, while you are doing this any thoughts come to mind about “what a strange thing we are doing” or “what is the point of this” or “I don’t like these,” then just noting them as thoughts and bringing your awareness back to the object. (Pause)
And now smelling the object, taking it and holding it beneath your nose, and with each in-breath, carefully noticing the smell of it. (Pause)
And now taking another look at it (Pause)
And now slowly taking the object to your mouth, maybe noticing how your hand and arm know exactly where to put it, perhaps noticing your mouth watering as it comes up. (Pause)
And then gently placing the object in the mouth, noticing how it is “received” without biting it, just exploring the sensations of having it in your mouth. (Pause)
And when you are ready, very consciously taking a bite into it and noticing the taste that it releases. (Pause)
Slowly chewing it … noticing the saliva in the mouth … the change in consistency of the object. (Pause)
Then, when you feel ready to swallow, seeing if you can first detect the intention to swallow as it comes up, so that even this is experienced consciously before you actually swallow it. (Pause)
Finally, seeing if you can follow the sensations of swallowing it, sensing it moving down to your stomach, and also realizing that your body is now exactly one raisin heavier.
Tracks (MP3) of meditations from the mind-body program, guided by Dr. Sian Cotton
Tracks (MP3) of meditations from Meriden McGraw, Center Mindfulness in the Workplace
Pre- and Post-Surgery Meditations from Drs. Sian Cotton and Barbara Walker
YouTube Guided Meditation from Tina Walter
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