You live in a busy world. You fold the laundry while keeping one eye on the kids and another on the television. You plan your day while listening to the radio and commuting to work and then plan your weekend. But in the rush to accomplish necessary tasks, you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment—missing out on what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Did you notice whether you felt well-rested this morning or that forsythia is in bloom along your route to work?
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness
Mindfulness improves well-being
- Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
- Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.
- By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem and are better able to form deep connections with others.
Mindfulness improves physical health
If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered the benefits of mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways.
- help relieve stress
- treat heart disease
- lower blood pressure
- reduce chronic pain
- improve sleep
- alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties
Mindfulness improves mental health
In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including:
- substance abuse
- eating disorders
- couples’ conflicts
- anxiety disorders
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
Meditation and other practices that foster mindfulness
Mindfulness can be cultivated through mindfulness meditation, a systematic method of focusing your attention.
You can learn to meditate on your own, following instructions in books or on tape. However, you may benefit from the support of an instructor or group to answer questions and help you stay motivated. Look for someone using meditation in a way compatible with your beliefs and goals.
Great places to begin meditation
Wat Suan Mokkh, Chaiyu, Thailand
Wat Suan Mokkh is a forest monastery where about 40 monks live in little huts in the forest. From July to September, during the traditional three-month rain retreat, the number of monks may increase to more than 70. Another part of the monastery grounds is reserved for nuns and lay women.
Ala Kukui, Maui, Hawaii
Located on 12 lush tropical acres in the picturesque East Maui community of Hāna, Ala Kukui is one of the premier retreat centers in Hawai’i. Founded in 2002, Ala Kukui (“Pathway to the Light”) is a 501(c)(3) organization that hosts non-denominational retreats, workshops, classes, meetings, Hawaiian cultural programs, and other events.
Gampo Abbey, Nova Scotia, Canada
Gampo Abbey is a Western Buddhist monastery in the Shambhala tradition in Nova Scotia, Canada. In-house retreat is the only time in the Gampo Abbey year that people have the opportunity to participate in Abbey life for a week or two without having to make a one-year commitment.
Rolling Meadows, Brooks, Maine
This is a 100-acre meditation and yoga retreat center over-looking the hills of coastal Maine. It provides an ideal environment for spiritual renewal supported by the practices of yoga and meditation.
Scheduled silent meditation and yoga retreats for up to 11 participants in a charming 1840’s New England farmhouse are offered throughout the year.
Kripalu, Stockbridge, Massachusetts
With Kripalu’s R&R Retreats, you decide how to spend your days so that you can create exactly the right experience for you. Choose from a variety of experiential and educational workshops, outdoor activities, and yoga and movement classes.
Plum Valley, France
The four-week Summer Opening, led by Thich Nhat Hanh, is Plum Village’s largest and most festive retreat.
It is a time to be nourished by deep yet accessible teachings, the peace, and splendor of the summer countryside and the joy of community.
We welcome families, couples, and individuals of all ages, and all nationalities, to join us for this joyful and colorful time of living mindfully together.
Dalai Lamas teachings, Dharamsala, India
In the home of Dalai lama-dharma-Dharamsala-yoga-meditation-retreat: Rejuvenate yourself with Tibetan energetics and Tibetan healing techniques,Ayurveda health. Travel with Dharamsala miniguide, study the history of Tibetan monks, a list of Tibetan place names, rituals of Tibetan Buddhism.
Glenview Hotel and Leisure Club, Delgany, Glen of The Downs, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, as taught at Glenview Hotel, is used to manage the physical and psychological impacts of stress, pain and sickness. This approach strips away talk about dharma and karma to offer straight-up meditation techniques.
Buddhist Retreat Centre, South Africa
Perched on a ridge at the head of a valley in the Umkomaas river system in KwaZulu-Natal, the Buddhist retreat Centre looks out on a vista of indigenous valleys, forests and rolling hills receding like waves in the blue distance. Here, for more than twenty years people of all religions and none have come to experience peace and tranquility.
Spirit Rock, Woodacre, CA
Spirit Rock Meditation Center is dedicated to the teachings of the Buddha as presented in the vipassana tradition. The practice of mindful awareness, called Insight Meditation, is at the heart of all the activities at Spirit Rock
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