By: Christine Karper, Ph.D., LMHC, Cancer Support Community, Integrative Medicine Department & Kirsten Klein, UCF Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Researcher
In the last post, Mindful Attention, we learned that breathing can combat stress, but we have to have the right attitude. Finally, we need to practice mindfulness to enjoy the full benefits it may bring.
For mindfulness, it is important to keep in mind why and how you want to practice it. However, equally important is the way you approach the practice. With the right attitude, mindfulness can be a nurturing experience.
Put simply, mindfulness is intentionally paying attention with kindness – Shapiro, 201
How many of us have negative self-talk? It is not uncommon to hear the phrase “we are our own worst critic.” Mindfulness practice asks that you step away from that critical viewpoint and adopt a kinder, self-accepting, self-nurturing and compassionate attitude. There are a few key attitudes that help in practicing mindfulness.
Non-judgment: Step back from your thoughts and notice their existence impartially.
Patience: Let things unfold in their own time
Beginner’s mind: See the world with childlike wonder.
Trust: Honor your feelings.
Non-striving: Focus on being, not doing.
Acceptance: Acknowledge the truth of your life.
Letting go: Accepting things as they are
Loving Kindness Meditation
Challenge yourself to break away from the negative self talk and replace it with kindness, compassion, and curiosity. One attitudinal practice is called the loving kindness meditation. This can be done by using the Metta Prayer. The first utterance of the prayer should be towards yourself, then those closest to you, continuing until it includes all beings.
May “all beings” be happy, healthy and whole.
May they have love, warmth and affection.
May they be protected from harm, and free from fear.
May they be alive, engaged and joyful.
May “all beings” enjoy inner peace and ease.
May that peace expand into their world and throughout the entire universe.
While practicing mindfulness, keep these five words in mind: “What you practice becomes stronger” – Shauna Shapiro
Cultivating mindfulness takes time. It is challenging, but well worth it. Befriending yourself in this way is the adventure of a lifetime, and beautifully empowering. In order to live life fully, you have to be present for it. The real meditation is how you live & love your life. Try it for a few weeks – it grows on you!
About the Author
Christine Karper, Ph.D., LMHC is from the Integrative Medicine department at the Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center where she serves as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and teaches mindfulness-based stress reduction classes along with other integrative practices for well-being. She earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling in 2000 and her doctoral degree in counselor education and supervision in 2003. Along with being a clinician at the cancer hospital, she serves on the graduate faculty panel for 4 universities in the Central Florida community. She has been teaching and practicing mindfulness techniques and other mind, body, spirit approaches for more than two decades.
About the Co-Author
Kirsten Klein, UCF Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Researcher. Kirsten contributed to the research and writing of this blog series.
Chopra, D. (2013). 7 Myths of Meditation. Blog Post retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/meditation-myths_b_2823629.html
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Second Edition, Revised and Updated. Published by Bantam/Random House.
Linden, W., Lenz, J. W., & Con, A. H. (2001). Individualized stress management for primary hypertension: A controlled trial. Archives of Internal Medicine, 161, 1071–1080.
UMASS Medical School Website History of MBSR. Retrieved from: https://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/mindfulness-based-programs/mbsr-courses/about-mbsr/history-of-mbsr/