434.924.0211
Medical Center

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Site Logins
Home > BeWise > One Page Resources > Mindfulness > Mindfulness

Mindfulness

•Goal: Mindfulness has been defined as “intentional present moment nonjudgmental awareness”. So what does this mean, and why is it important?  Let’s start with the present moment part. Most of the times are minds are wandering, thinking about the future or the past, and are not focused on what we are doing right now.  This has several consequences.  First, if we are not paying attention to what we are doing, we are likely to be less effective and to make mistakes. Second, we live our lives in the present moment, not in the future or the past, and if we’re thinking about something else, we can miss out on our lives while they’re happening.  Third, research has shown that we are happier when we are paying attention than when our minds are wandering.  The next part of the definition is that this awareness is intentional, that we have made a choice to pay attention.  Thus, we are aware that we are aware. Finally, this awareness is nonjudgmental.  Whatever our experience is now is just what it is. We often don’t like what’s happening right now- we want things to be faster or slower or nicer- yet these judgments often just tend to make us feel worse.
 
•Technique: Mindfulness can be practiced any time, just by paying attention to what we are doing. This might be having a conversation, or washing the dishes, or eating a meal.  This has been called informal mindfulness or mindfulness in every day life. Meditation is formal mindfulness practice, when we actually stop whatever else we are doing to pay attention to a particular aspect of our experience, like breathing.
 
Exercises:
Mindfulness of thoughts Meditation
 
•The evidence: There is an abundance of evidence now that mindfulness has a wide variety of positive effects, including decreasing stress, decreasing anxiety, improving mood, decreasing burnout, and improving attention (Journal of Psychosomatic Research 2015;78:519-28).
 
•Suggestions for use: Take time during the day to really pay attention to something you are doing, like eating, walking or washing the dishes.  Notice the details in doing this. If eating, try eating slowly, savoring each bite, noticing different flavors, feeling the act of swallowing. Often our minds quickly wander when we try to do this, so when that happens, just bring your attention back to the task at hand.  Also try practicing formal meditation for at least 5 minutes a day, using recordings such as those on the UVA Mindfulness Center website.
 
•Barriers and how to overcome them: The tendency of our minds to wander is often a barrier to being mindful, as is our desire to be doing something, not just being.  We find we want to be looking at our phones or multitasking instead of paying attention.  Intentionally paying attention to what we are doing doesn’t have to take much time, so try setting aside only a few minutes to begin with, gradually increasing this over time.