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Being Present: The Practice of Mindfulness

Submitted by Ila Langner on Thu, 05/28/2020 - 10:00 PM
One rock balancing on another rock on a wooden table in the foreground and blurred light in the background.

A few years ago, I noticed a lot of mindfulness books entering into the children’s non-fiction collection.  As I perused the books, I thought that this was a wonderful concept to introduce to children, because so many children have so many extracurricular activities on their plate.  Mindfulness is a positive way to approach negativity that may occur during one’s day.

During the shelter in place, as my anxieties soar, I attended a calming mindfulness webinar led by Mark Giannuzzi, library manager for Alviso and Educational Park Libraries.

Mark defines mindfulness as “present moment awareness opposite of absentmindedness and autopilot.”  In other words, you are “in the zone.”  In this anxious time, there are many benefits to be gained from mindfulness.

Benefits of Mindfulness

In order to understand mindfulness, we must first understand how our brains work.  According to Mark, the following brain functions impact the efficiency of the brain:  autopilot for routine tasks helps to “filter out extraneous stimuli,” narratives help us to compartmentalize information, and attention flows in two directions:  outwardly and inwardly.  Mindfulness is a practice to ensure that these brain functions do not create anxiety.

Therefore, the benefits of mindfulness are as follows:

  • Helps to build skills to stay in the present moment instead of being distracted.
  • Gain perspective of situations by giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  • Learn to be unmoved by fleeting desires and instead focus on internal calmness.

Techniques of Mindfulness

If you look up mindfulness, you will see many techniques such as:  breathing, body awareness, meditation, gratitude journals, exercise, humor, positive talk, etc.  According to Mark, there are four ways to enter into mindfulness through the:

  1. Body
  2. Mind
  3. Feelings
  4. Experience

Mark recommends that when you are in an uncomfortable situation, it is best to keep the following techniques in mind during and after your experience:

  • Listen with intent by being non-judgmental, allowing the experience to occur, avoiding trying to fix anything, and simply being present.
  • Remember to return to mindfulness after the situation.  It will help you to return to a sense of calm and empathy.

Applying Mindfulness to Your Work

You may be one of the lucky people who never experience negative thoughts about your work.  However, most people have aspects of their work that create negativity for them.  Here are two things to consider if you are not aware what parts of your job may be causing you negative thoughts:

  • Reflect on what customers or situations cause you to feel anxious or frustrated.
  • Reflect on what work duties or tasks cause you to feel anxious or frustrated.

When you have pinpointed what causes you to feel anxious and frustrated at work, try to adjust those negative thoughts about your job.  Set aside a quiet period of time where you can utilize mindfulness techniques to think about how you can improve those parts of the job that make you feel anxious or frustrated.  Mark recommends setting aside a time every day to reflect.

If you are in a negative situation, remember to listen with intent, primarily being mindful of listening with kindness and empathy as your foremost thoughts.

Blog Category
Adult Nonfiction

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