We will explore exercises in secular mindfulness. This is intentional present-moment awareness. How can we rest in our senses? How can we gain insight into the very process that propels us from one moment to the next through clear observation? Can we intersect this process in a way that leads to greater contentment, less impulsivity, and less stress?
Generally, mindfulness is a practice that develops intentional present moment awareness. It does not require any beliefs. In this practice, we rely on the unifying and grounding aspects of science. We avoid divisions that come from belief-systems, whenever possible.
The mindfulness practices we will explore are based on MBSR, a clinically proven method. However, this group is for a typical person who is psychologically stable and healthy. This is not a substitute for mental or physical healthcare. If you have serious physical or mental health issues please see a qualified and licensed practitioner to treat these.
It has already been scientifically proven to work in clinics and laboratories for the past thirty years through Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs. It has been shown to be effective in alleviating extreme cases of stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. It is something you can do if you are walking, eating, driving, brushing your teeth, or doing the dishes. It makes you more efficient, more productive, and generally happier while you are doing even the most basic tasks.
The studies only show measurable differences over months of practice, so patience is essential. However, the long-term effects of being more present are profound and pervasive. It literally provides a mechanism to grow and rewire the brain. This is something that happens naturally in childhood and we can continue this process throughout our lives.
On a basic level, the exercises are intended to provide a richer more balanced experience of life by building a greater awareness of the senses, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations that we all experience in each moment. You may be able to organize and see your thoughts and emotions non-judgmentally without being swept up in them. That is, we are learning how to face life's challenges with equanimity. This is the capacity to be fully aware of and move through life's challenges calmly.
Mindfulness is not the same as concentration meditation, though that is developed as a by-product of the exercises. We are simply trying to observe the intersection of mind and body. It is this gentle act of attention that ultimately frees us.