150 Bay Street, suite 909, Jersey City, NJ
Ease into your weekend with FREE Friday lunch time yoga. We'll move and stretch to prepare the body for a seated or reclined (your choice!) mindfulness meditation. So, come, make new mindful friends ;) Taught by Kathleen Kraft.
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What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness outside of meditation?
1. Mindfulness gives the mind a rest from our fixation on discursive thinking. Of course, we need to think at times. That said, the mind tends to dwell on stressful thoughts about the past and the future: we replay painful experiences from the past; we mock up worst-case-scenarios about the future. It's exhausting and rarely productive. Bringing our mind out of our stories and into the present moment brings with it a welcome relief from these stressful and habitual thought patterns.
2. Mindfulness takes us out of ourselves. You can see from #1 that most of our discursive thinking is self-focused. It's refreshing and energizing to open our awareness to the world around us instead of always being preoccupied with our personal stories. Mindfulness also helps us cope with painful physical sensations when their intensity takes over our entire sense of self and we feel we are nothing but painful sensations.
3. Mindfulness turns a boring activity into an adventure. My work meditation—putting food away after a meal—may have sounded boring. But with mindful awareness, it became an adventure: finding just the right-sized container for the amount of food that was left; transferring the food from the serving tray into the container without spilling it (all the while enjoying the stimulation of my sense of smell!). This intentional engagement with what is happening in the present moment generates curiosity, not boredom.
4. Mindfulness frees us from judgment. Non-judgmental awareness of whatever presents itself to the senses is a key feature of mindfulness. We become friendly and impartial observers, free to put down the heavy burden of judging. In this way, mindfulness is a doorway to equanimity because the essence of equanimity is being okay with our experience whether it happens to be pleasant or unpleasant at the moment.
5. Mindfulness enables us to make wise choices. When our minds are lost in stressful thought patterns, it's hard to see through the mental clutter. As a result, we get confused and become reactive, not reflective. This makes it more likely that we'll respond to others unskillfully, perhaps saying something we'll later regret. By contrast, if we've learned to practice mindfulness in the midst of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences, we're much more likely to catch ourselves before we speak or act unskillfully. We can stop, take a conscious breath or two, and then choose a skillful and healthy way to respond to people and situations.
6. Mindfulness opens our hearts and minds to the world unfolding right before us. The Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Pema Chödrön (a chronic illness sufferer herself) describes this as, "Letting the world speak for itself." The world answers with the full array of life's experiences—the squawking of a scrub jay, the breeze in my face, the sadness in a child's cry, the sight of a young couple in love.