As you read this, where is your mind—really?
Are you thinking about something that happened 30 minutes ago, or contemplating your to-do list that you need to get back to shortly? We often hear the phrase “be in the present moment,” but to do this, we need to learn about mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to what’s happening right this instant without judgment, calmly accepting your body’s sensations, emotions, and thoughts. This acceptance helps you learn not to assign a value of “right” or “wrong” to how you feel or think in a particular moment. The concept of being mindful is an ancient practice often associated with meditation, yoga, and Eastern religions, particularly Buddhism.
Some addiction scientists believe practicing mindfulness allows individuals to have more control over reactions and behaviors. It’s also a helpful relapse prevention tool, because mindfulness can:
- Reduce stress
- Provide an essential pause before being consumed by a trigger or craving
- Build resilience
- Boost other dedicated wellness efforts
Mindfulness also helps people manage co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Anxiety is often worry or concern about the future. Depression is frequently impacted by events from the past. By learning to stay in the present moment as often as you can, you develop a better awareness and can incorporate other coping skills that add to your wellness.
So how do you develop your ability to be mindful? We have many options.
Popular Authors and Proponents of Mindfulness
Here are just a few notable leaders of mindfulness, all of whom have books, videos, and other materials to help you learn about the practice.
Many people credit physician and professor Jon Kabat-Zinn for popularizing mindfulness in the United States. More than three decades ago, Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His program, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, trains people all over the world in the practice of mindfulness and enables them to teach others. The Stress Reduction Clinic offers classes for people eager to “cope more effectively with both short-term and long-term stressful situations,” as well as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which helps individuals with depression or those prone to “struggling with negative thinking, rumination, and worry.”
Kabat-Zinn has many videos and guided audio programs on YouTube, and a series of videos on Mindful.org. Popular books include Mindfulness for Beginners; Wherever You Go, There You Are; Falling Awake: How to Practice Mindfulness in Everyday Life; and The Healing Power of Mindfulness: A New Way of Being.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Buddhist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is known throughout the world as an author, poet, spiritual leader, and peace activist. His social activism caught the attention of the Vietnam government, and his native country forced him into exile for almost 40 years. Once a contemporary of Martin Luther King, Jr., he’s the founder of Plum Village, a mindfulness monastic center in France. “Mindfulness is not an evasion or an escape,” he once said. “It means being here, present, and totally alive. It is true freedom—and without this freedom, there is no happiness.”
He’s the author of more than 100 books, including The Miracle of Mindfulness; You Are Here; and No Mud, No Lotus.
Once considered the most popular spiritual author in the United States, German-born Eckhart Tolle struggled with depression and other issues until he had a spiritual awakening. He then traveled the world, learning from all religions and peace practices before writing his bestseller, The Power of Now. Another book, A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose, released a few years later, helped make him a household name. He offers many other resources on his website.
Here’s one of his many popular mindfulness quotes: “If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. As soon as you honor the present moment, unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out of present moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love—even the most simple action.”
Well-known in the international yoga community, Strom was born with severe clubbed feet that almost ensured he’d have a life of disability. Over time, he used various healing modalities, including yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, to regain his mobility. He’s developed unique breathing techniques to help people understand the power of focused breath on the nervous system and on wellbeing. His inspirational talks on this topic, mindfulness, and how we can move beyond challenging circumstances are sought after in TED Talks and other lectures throughout the world. “When we shut down the thinking mind and allow ourselves to simply be in our being state, it’s very healing,” he said.
Strom is the author of two books, A Life Worth Breathing and There Is No App for Happiness. He has instructional DVDs, too, and some are available on YouTube.
To find other mindfulness resources, check out:
- The American Mindfulness Research Association
- The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley
- The Mindfulness App
- Pocket Mindfulness
Valley Has Resources for a New Life
Our fundamental philosophy is the belief that all people have worth. We design treatment plans to enhance the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. We believe each person has an inherent potential for change and growth, and that certain proven principles help us all move toward continuous improvement, deeper relationships, and greater joy, even in the face of difficulties. If you need more assistance with your path of recovery, contact us to learn how we can help.