What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the capacity to recognize the feelings, thoughts, and emotions that arise in our present experience. When we are mindful, we are making the conscious effort to observe our minds and our experiences with curiosity, openness, and acceptance.
You can practice mindfulness anywhere, anytime, and with anyone—informally, in daily life, or formally, such as during seated meditation.
Is mindfulness the same as meditation?
This is a common question! While mindfulness and meditation go hand-in-hand, the terms aren’t quite interchangeable.
Mindfulness is “paying attention to what is happening right now (including to our mental events) with curiosity, openness, and acceptance.” —Bishop, Lau, et al. (2004)
Meditation refers to a variety of practices that focus on connecting the mind and body. Some meditation practices involve maintaining mental focus on a sensation, like breathing, or on an image, a sound, or a mantra. Usually, someone meditating will spend a focused amount of time tuned inward—say, one minute, or an hour.
The skill of mindfulness can be developed in many different ways. Meditation is just one of them!
How is mindfulness helpful?
It’s easy to go about our daily lives on autopilot. We’re multitasking, distracted with the news, thinking about what we’ll cook for dinner tonight, and ruminating over a conversation we had yesterday.
Mindfulness helps us focus, bringing all of our senses into the present moment so we can begin to make choices that move us toward integrity, compassion, and connection.
Mindfulness, at its core, is both an individual and relational practice. As individuals, it helps us perceive and gently open to our full experience of being human. Understanding our own minds helps us to engage with the people around us from a place of compassion and understanding, rather than a desire to control others or fit in. When we’re in touch with our own worth and dignity, we innately feel more connected to others.
Is there science to support the benefits of mindfulness?
At Awaken Pittsburgh, our proprietary approach is firmly rooted in current research and scientific literature. We find that the impact of mindfulness practice reported by our students and unearthed through our own studies consistently aligns with the findings of institutions we follow and trust.
A few of the primary benefits include:
In one 2010 study, participants in a mindfulness training group reported significantly decreased perceived stress and increased positive states of mind.
Decreased Emotional Reactivity
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to decrease the interfering effects of unpleasant or emotional stimuli on people completing simple tasks.
Less Burnout & Compassion Fatigue
Educators who practiced mindfulness found it effective in combating emotional exhaustion, among other widely-studied components of burnout.
While personal experience is key to discovering the value of mindfulness for you, we encourage those interested to explore the documented effects practice has on the well-being of individuals and communities.
Is mindfulness right for me?
We believe mindfulness can be transformative for individuals and groups alike! It is a skill that can benefit just about anyone, whether you’re looking for relief from stress or agitation, seeking tools for personal growth, or wanting to connect with others in a more genuine and thoughtful way.