MINDFULNESS not only matters, it works!

Mindfulness seems to be the current buzzword! I see it everywhere now.  Do you really know what it means and how it is being used positively in many institutions partly  thanks to Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio? I had the opportunity to hear him speak last April and immediately purchased his book, A Mindful Nation, which was published in 2012. Since then he has written another book and I have heard him speak on radio shows as well.

Mindfulness differs from meditation because it can be practiced anywhere, even driving or eating. It is as simple as being present in the moment, without your mind scattering in all directions. It allows you to focus on what you are doing at the present moment. You can breathe, walk, eat and hug mindfully! It can even reduce stress, benefit your health and add years to your life! Congressman Ryan points out how easy it is to become discouraged, even cynical in these tough times where there are so many pressing issues, personally and nationally. Mindfulness is an excellent way to cope with our daily stress, and also to incorporate into all areas of our lives.

As Ryan says in his introduction, “mindfulness is about finding ways to slow down and pay attention to the present moment—which improves performance and reduces stress.”  He wishes he had this tool at his disposal when he was child and currently practices mindfulness daily. Now he is promoting the use of this technique in education, prisons, hospitals, and even in  the military.

One of the most promising uses for mindfulness is with children in schools. It is a calming tool, often diffusing tense situations, and helps children focus on their tasks better. Several organizations around the country have begun using SEL (Social and Emotional Learning). The CARE (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education) program has been tested in several states including Colorado. Teachers report great success with children who have behavioral issues. Actress, Goldie Hawn, is also involved in promoting mindfulness in the schools. Her foundation developed a program called MindUp. All of these programs share a focus on developing self-management, self-awareness, social awareness and responsible decision making. Mindfulness can also help decrease teen depression and suicides.

In addition to using mindfulness in education, Ryan details in the book about success in healthcare, prisons and in with first responders and the military. It would be great if more politicians would follow his lead and allow funding for promoting something that is so positively helpful in these areas of life. His book is well-worth reading for personal benefit, and to learn more about the successes we can promote individually and collectively in our systems. The back of the book includes some steps for being more mindful. There are many other sources available to learn more about mindfulness that would also be worth exploring. I highly encourage you to do so since it can benefit all of us, and our nation!

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