To me mindfulness represents an approach to one’s life, a certain spirit, in the way we think and act.  It manifests in the way we treat ourselves and those around us.  You’ll define it for yourself.  Since I’m interested in the subject,I requested a copy from Hay House of Congressman Tim Ryan’s book, A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance and Recapture the American Spirit.

A Mindful Nation serves as a very thorough and engaging resource guide.  It includes a history of current ‘mindfulness practices’, a researched analog on who is who in the field, what experiments are showing promise, and how this ancient practice has been revived and revamped for modern life.

But most joyously, is the feelings of optimism and resilience that left this  reader uplifted, curious and hopeful.  I learned as much from the way Ryan skillfully handled topics in which we disagree as when he was talking to the choir (me.)
 So we should start at the spot where we put together a working definition of mindfulness from the author, “mindfulness means being relaxed and aware of what’s going on  in our own minds. It means calmly paying attention to what we are doing, without being pulled in to regrets about the past or fantasies of the future. It’s our capacity simply to fully focus on what we’re doing. “ “ Mindfulness is not a magic bullet or cure-all, but it can lead to small but significant changes that can improve your performance and make life more enjoyable. “  “Put simply, mindfulness is about finding ways to slow down and pay attention to the present moment – which improves performance and reduces stress.

While this may not be the one-stop answer to all the complex situations we face, there is  an abundance of benefits (and  no negative side effects.)    This mindfulness community is active so I like to use the term, ‘mindfulness in action.’  Ryan provides us with current examples on how this work is being used in our health-care systems, with military and first responders, within working environments, and as a personal tool for one’s own development and potential for our country’s progress.

 

Some of The Real-Life Doable
Benefits….

 

  • Quiets the mind, can help one to relax
  • Influences our autonomic nervous system (ability for stress management)
  • Increases decision making capacity (increases your ability to stay put in the face of difficulties,  leaving opportunity for emerging solutions, rather than acting blindly.)
  • Harness your energy
  • Focusing
  • Increase compassion to self and others
  • Manage bad moods and burnout

 

One story….

One example of mindfulness in action came upon a visit to an elementary school in Virginia  where the students were taught the MindUP curriculum, initiated by Goldie
Hawn’s foundation and published by Scholastic.

These young students were taught about their amygdala and general brain functioning, in the belief that the first level of training is an understanding of  how your brain is working in order to learn how to regulate it.  Some of the stories that came out during the kids circle time were poignant of course, worried about parents and missing siblings, big stressors.  Having the mindfulness tools at your disposal may help mitigate some of the anxiety and fear, giving them a fighting chance to stay calm enough to make decisions that will be healthy for them.

Difference of Opinion…

Congressman Ryan, of  course has ideas and interests that differ than mine, including on hunting.  Yet he beautifully modeled mindful thinking as he deftly presented this subject in a new light.  As he extolled the stillness and beauty of  nature, he made his points so that a reader (me) could hear and listen to his opinion.  A powerful, useful communication skill that a ‘mindful presence’ instills.

I would certainly like to hear future stories on how this process is working in Washington?!  Please note, I did request and receive this book free from Hay House Publishing so I could review it.