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Mindfulness is receiving a lot of attention these days. And for a good reason. So many of us are feeling rushed in our busy lives that we’re more “mind full” than “mindful.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn says mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with intention but without judgment. He’s the founder of the widely used Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. He stresses letting go of judgment as if your life depends on it. You simply observe your inner and outer worlds without evaluating them.

In other words, mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts, feelings and body sensations. And it is being aware of your surroundings – all without forming any opinions about what “is.”

Practicing mindfulness takes effort. You must quiet the busyness of your mind. Once you do, you’ll increase your ability to handle difficult situations and lower your anxiety and stress level. You may notice you’re in a better mood and can focus better too. Most of us welcome less chaos in our lives. Mindfulness is a way to do that.

Try these steps to practice mindfulness. Although they are simple, they are not easy.

  • Make time and space for your practice. Just 5 minutes is a good start.
  • Observe the present moment just as it is.
  • Note your judgments, then let them pass.
  • Come back to the present moment every time your mind judges or wanders away.
  • Be patient and gentle with yourself. Remember: no judgment, not even of yourself!

New Leaf Center teaches mindfulness as part of our Monday night DBT Skills Group. The group runs in 12-week cycles and focuses on dealing with emotions in a healthy way, handling stressful situations, and improving relationships. Call to sign up for the next cycle. 407-644-8588.