All members of the public are encouraged to attend monthly mindfulness drop-in sessions at Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) on the first Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. The 30-minute sessions are free and are facilitated by BCHD’s trained mindfulness instructors. No prior experience with meditation or mindfulness is required. Learn more at bchd.org/mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
According to UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, mindfulness involves paying attention in the here and now with a quality of openness, curiosity and kindness. Being mindful is about paying attention to your present moment experience, including thoughts, feelings, sensations, sounds, etc. This practice teaches participants to meet the experience of the moment just as it is, without adding extra criticism or judgment. Initially, you may not feel its impact or understand its benefits. However, with time and practice, many find that through mindfulness they gain more clarity in their life and better handle stressors at home and in the workplace.
Benefits of Mindfulness
According to the American Psychological Association, a selection of the empirically supported benefits of mindfulness includes:
- Stress reduction. Evidence shows that mindful meditation increases positive affect and decreases anxiety and negative affect.
- Improvements in working memory. Studies have found that mindfulness practices increase a person’s ability to focus attention and suppress distractions.
- Better cognitive flexibility. Another line of research suggests that in addition to helping people become less reactive, mindfulness meditation may also give them greater cognitive flexibility and help develop the skill of self-observation.
3 Ways to Practice Mindfulness at Home and Work
- Mindful Movement: Every thirty minutes of sitting, do four minutes of movement. Stretch, walk, do some neck rolls. Notice how your body feels before and after you move.
- Mindful Eating: Eat a snack mindfully. Notice the sight, touch, smell, taste, sound and thoughts and feelings you are experiencing while you are eating.
- Daily Five-Minute Breath Meditations: Sit comfortably in a place where you are unlikely to be disturbed. Pay attention to your breath as it moves in and out of the body (focusing at the nose, chest or at the abdomen) for five minutes. Remember, you are not trying to achieve any particular state ... you are practicing being present.