“I have come to see the cultivation of mindfulness as a radical act – a radical act of sanity, of self-compassion, and ultimately of love.”
I am so inspired by Jon Kabat-Zinn’s wisdom and always share this quote in my “Healing Power of Presence” mindfulness workshop. On Monday, I had the privilege of leading one hundred early educators for my three hour mindfulness workshop during their yearly professional development conference. It was such a joy to teach these transformative mindfulness practices and share the remarkable benefits of mindfulness. Interestingly, the conference was held in the event center of a casino and it was a beautiful paradox to be meditating with 100 people in a casino and creating such a peaceful and nurturing space!
I love teaching people about the healing power of presence because the ripple effects are endless. Once people understand how important it is to bring their full attention to those they are engaged with everything changes. During the workshop one woman shared her epiphany as she recognized that when she is not fully present people know, especially children. I asked her what message that sends to the other person when we are not fully present and she said that they are not important.
I shared my belief that each one of us has the power to let every child or person we engage with know that they are important, they matter, and they have value and worth by giving them our full attention. Imagine how different our world would be if we intentionally brought mindfulness to all our relationships, reinforcing that every person we engage with is important and that they matter. I believe we would have a more peaceful and loving world for sure! One participant shared after how hopeful he felt after the workshop about creating more peace in the world.
When we intentionally pay attention on purpose with curiosity and non-judgment – the definition of mindfulness – we nurture peace in the world from the inside out. As Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us “Our capacity to make peace with another person and the world depends very much on our capacity to make peace with ourselves.” Mindfulness allows us to become more aware of ourselves and create space around us to be more accepting, compassionate, and kind to ourselves and others. When we are more connected with ourselves, we make more empowered self-nurturing choices. Over time, we create the space needed in our lives to make choices to respond rather than react. The more we cultivate mindfulness, the more we model an intentional and peaceful way of living together impacting all our relationships.
The teachers understood this and were excited about bringing mindfulness into their lives and into the classroom. After I shared the research demonstrating that mindfulness practices support students in decreasing their stress and anxiety, increasing their attention and emotional regulation, strengthening their compassion and empathy, and improving their relationships, they discussed strategies to incorporate mindfulness in their classrooms. The participants came up with wonderful ways including using a bell to invite the students to breathe throughout the day, turning down the lights as a reminder for the students to breath and quiet themselves, inviting the students to breathe between activities, and using yoga and mindful movement to connect the youth to their breath and bodies. I love how creative and inspired the staff were in finding practical ways to introduce mindfulness in their classrooms.
Knowing the benefits of mindfulness was so motivating to the participants and we have Jon Kabat-Zinn and the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program he developed over thirty-five years ago at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center to thank for spearheading research on the brain and mindfulness.
Cultivating a spirit of curiosity and non-judgment is at the heart of mindfulness and is a powerful self-nurturing approach to life. Jon Kabat Zinn’s reinforces this message when he writes, “When we speak of mindfulness, it is important to keep in mind that we equally mean heartfulness.” When we incorporate mindfulness into all areas of our lives, we can be more present, heart centered, and aware of ourselves, which benefits everyone!
So how will you include more mindfulness practices in your life? You can begin by pausing right now to breathe in and out intentionally three times and giving yourself permission to recognize all the blessings in your life.
May you bring more mindfulness into your life as a radical act of sanity, compassion and love and may you nurture peace in the world from the inside out!
Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,
Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker
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