Mindfulness Summit: Day 1 – Mark Williams

I decided to participate in a 31 day on-line Mindfulness Summit.  I’ve read a lot about mindfulness but still consider myself a beginner, especially when it comes to meditation.  With all the continuing research showing the positive results, including decreased anxiety and depression, improved sleep, lowered blood-pressure, etc., I’m motivated to learn more about it for myself, personally, and to be able to use it in my private practice.

Day One: Mark Williams, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University. Mark is one of the premiere researchers on Mindfulness and has co-authored a book entitled, ‘Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World.’  He said (and I’m paraphrasing) that mindfulness is an awareness of what’s happening, while it’s happening, inside and out.  It emerges when we decide to check-in with ourselves with what’s really going on.   Versus mindlessness, which is when we’re on autopilot and not aware of what we are processing.  With mindlessness or when our mind is wandering, we are more vulnerable to negative thoughts creeping in and aren’t aware of them until they have amassed and then we’re so far down that path that it’s hard to stop.  Checking-in with ourselves regularly and noticing our thoughts and asking “how do I nourish myself in the next hour?”can be valuable.  Mindfulness is a practice about how to reengage with moment-to-moment living.

Some common obstacles that come up for beginning meditators are:

  • Putting aside time.  He recommends discovering what time of day works best.  Getting there is the hardest part, from the thought of meditating to getting to the place where you choose to meditate.  Once there, you can decide how long  to stay.
  • Don’t worry if your mind wanders.  It’s actually needed for the practice.  If it didn’t wander, there wouldn’t be anything to practice.  Practice is noticing.
  • Look at how you’re bringing your mind back when you notice it’s wandering.  Are you treating yourself like you’ve done something wrong?  When you notice it’s wandering, acknowledge it, be grateful for your amazing mind, and gently bring it back.  That’s the practice.

And then he led us in an eight-minute meditation.

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