Mindfulness can be thought of as emotional intelligence. Mindfulness is learning to pay attention to this present moment by noticing thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and feelings. When we take time to notice our physical and mental impulses, we learn how to regulate them in a special way that helps stop automatic reactions and increases skillful, caring responses. Probably best known as a stress-reduction tool, Mindfulness nurtures innate coping skills, providing participants with tools for dealing with conflict and adversity while increasing the ability to focus and control impulses.
We were all told as children to “pay attention”, but most of us were never shown how. Staying present amongst all the messages we receive from our fast-paced, media-driven society can be very difficult for a child…even most adults find it challenging! Without direction, we don’t know any better than to live submersed in what our sensory messages are telling us. This is what we refer to as “living on autopilot”.
The ‘Mindfulness’ we teach at Mindfulness First can be thought of as a group of lessons with easy to follow exercises that introduce us to our thoughts, emotions, feelings, and physical and mental impulses. We notice these personal experiences repeatedly until we know them so well, we start to regulate them in a special way. We ground all of our lessons in neuroscience and biology, to help students fully understand how the exercises are working.
If you ask a multitude of people for a definition of “Mindfulness” you will get varied responses. At Mindfulness First we align our definition of Mindfulness with the work of Dr. Ellen Langer*. In the early 1970’s, Harvard Psychology Professor Dr. Ellen Langer began researching and teaching about mindfulness and mindlessness. Dr. Langer shows us how being “mindful” is very much like critical thinking; she shows us how to notice new things, consider the perspectives of others, understand the flux of existence and the illusion of control. Her work is very much about taking control of our own health through being engaged in life. At Mindfulness First, we hope to help people to do just that.
(*Dr. Langer is not associated with Mindfulness First)