MINDFULNESS AND INNER BEAUTY

A mindfulness student recently experienced her body as beautiful during a body scan in class.  You may already have a positive self-image and feel good about your body. You may consider your body to be “the temple of the Holy Spirit.” Or you may have a negative body image, even hating your body. Whether you love your body or hate it, you can benefit from the body scan, a foundational practice from mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).

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MINDFUL SELF-COMPASSION

Your compassionate human desire to take good care of others is critical to the well-being of your family, friends, co-workers and community – and taking good care of yourself is the foundation for your care of everyone else.  However, it is sadly true that we often take better care of others than we do of ourselves. It’s as if we need a new Golden Rule: Do unto yourself as you do unto others. We would never say or do to someone else some of the things we say and do to ourselves.

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MINDFULNESS FOR SENIORS

You and I have two primary modes of mental activity: the doing mode and the being mode. Although we are called human beings, we spend the majority of our time in the doing mode rather than the being mode.  Your “doing” mode is highly prized in our culture for schooling, work and career. It demonstrates your mastery and command of detail, data, thinking, intellect and your goal-oriented ability to get things done. We depend heavily on the doing mode to take care of all our daily affairs at home and work,….

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BEING MINDFUL - BEING KIND

Our Stress Epidemic.

Even before the current pandemic, surveys over the past couple of years showed increasing levels of anxiety, depression, chronic pain, sleep disturbance, substance abuse, addiction, loneliness and suicide. Sadly, these trends have affected Americans of all ages, including teens and youth. New polls taken during this coronavirus pandemic show even more people are anxious about the possibility of themselves or their loved ones becoming seriously ill or dying. Anxiety over personal finances, food and medication shortages, a possible long-term impact on the economy and overall uncertainty is having a negative impact on mental health and the general quality of daily life.


Stress Management.

Although stress does not necessarily cause any particular disease, it can be a contributing factor in the development of symptoms of conditions affecting every organ system. In addition to healthy eating and physical activity, stress management is a foundation of physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. One of the most powerful tools of stress management is group support, social connection, friends and family. The pandemic-related social distancing and working from home have disrupted cherished habits of social engagement and support. The interpersonal group format of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is one reason it is the gold standard mindfulness approach to managing stress.

The Science of Kindness at UCLA.

The UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute supports rigorous interdisciplinary scientific research on the benefits of kindness to individuals, groups and societies. Combining evolutionary, biological, psychological, economic, cultural and sociological perspectives, the Kindness Institute seeks to overcome barriers to the intentional and skillful use of kindness to solve physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, interpersonal and international problems. Guided by the evidence from world-class research, the Kindness Institute also seeks to educate individuals, institutions and leaders about the practice of kindness, empathy and respect with the goal of creating kinder, more humane societies. They articulate their mission by saying, “We don’t just want people to learn about kindness – we want people to DO kindness.”


An example of the Kindness Institute’s mission to bridge science and spirituality is their research and education about contagious kindness – how witnessing acts of kindness can motivate observers to be kind, too. To foster an individual and collective culture of kindness, the Kindness Institute provides mindfulness awareness training to students, faculty and staff and underserved Los Angeles communities.



The Science of Kindness at Harvard.

The Center for Mindfulness and Compassion at Harvard Medical School considers mindfulness and compassion to be basic human capacities that support health and well-being. The center seeks to enhance health and well-being by integrating mindfulness and compassion into medicine, healthcare and society through research, education, public health and clinical practice. In addition to the intensive eight-week MBSR course, the center offers guidance in short practices that can be integrated through ordinary daily activity – a little bit and often.


Hand Washing with Mindfulness/Kindness.

Contagious kindness begins by offering kindness to yourself as the foundation for offering kindness to others. It doesn’t take any extra time to practice mindfulness and kindness; it just takes remembering. And you can train yourself to remember by using cues such as the hand washing we are all doing during this pandemic.



Simple Kindness Phrases.

Cultivate the self-care habit of saying some simple phrases throughout your day, during hand washing, waking up, bathing, eating, driving, walking, working, alone, being with others, going to sleep – anywhere, anytime.



Resources:


DR. JOHN PATTERSON


Dr. John Patterson is past president of the Kentucky Academy of Family Physicians and is board certified in family medicine and integrative holistic medicine. He is on the family practice faculty at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the University of Louisville School of Medicine, Saybrook University’s School of Mind Body Medicine (San Francisco) and the Center for Mind Body Medicine (Washington, D.C.). He operates the Mind Body Studio in Lexington, where he offers integrative medicine consultations