Mindfulness Training for Health and Wellbeing

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In the April newsletter, I listed 6 reasons why mindfulness matters.  Each month, I expand on the next reason in the list.  This month is reason 6.

1. Improves one’s ability to regulate emotions. 2. Cultivates a way of “being” for ourselves that is consistent with how we see ourselves. 3. Helps to illuminate our motives when we take action 4. Mindfulness helps to balance thinking with other sources of intelligence i.e. emotions and body sensations 5. Improves interpersonal communication through becoming a better listener 6. Helps us to recognize and challenge our perceptions of challenges

“Why Mindfulness Matters” in the book “The Mindfulness Revolution” edited by Barry Boyce.

Today, I would like to elaborate on the sixth reason taken from this list:   “Helps us to recognize and challenge our perceptions of challenges”.

I often refer to the quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn that reveals the role of perception with respect to the experience of stress.  He says in his well know book “Full Catastrophe Living”:  “It is not the potential stressor itself but how how you perceive it and then how you handle it that will determine whether or not it will lead to stress”.

The suggestion is that if you can change your perception, you may be able to change whether a challenge is experienced as stressful.

In my classes, I talk about perception as the way in which we see the world and the meaning we give to what we see.  Our perceptions often takes place automatically and without our full awareness as we organize, interpret, and judge what we see and what we experience.  The genesis of our perceptions are found in our memories, conditioning, expectations, and what we have learned in the past.  It is important to realize that perceptions can be changed once we become aware of their existence.

Try this….consider one of your major stressors in your life.  Be specific and try to describe in your mind the source of the stress.  See if you can tease out the meaning that you are attributing to your stressor as this may hold an important clue to why the stress is occurring.  Hint:  very often, when you experience stress, you are experiencing a threat.  As you reflect on the stressor, ask yourself, what is the nature of the threat?  Take it a step further and assess whether the threat is real or imagined.  You may be able to change your perception.  Explore what kind of impact this has on your experience of the demand.