The term mindfulness is an approximate translation of the Buddhist concept of “sati”, which, in turn, is used to refer to a state of awareness. Taking on the definition provided by Jon Kabat-Zinn – pioneer of the eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, in which mindfulness is used to reduce stress – being mindful means paying attention “on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”

Mindfulness is therefore similar to pointing a magnifying lens at one’s experience, encompassing all the feelings, emotions, and thoughts experienced, and yet seldom acknowledged and embraced, in each moment. It also means being aware of one’s – often unintended – actions, impulses and words.

Working to enhance one’s self-perception is a key precondition to foster self-empowerment, whose core concept is, in fact, to have a leading role in one’s own life while having the chance to choose among different options. Such a broadening of one’s view is undoubtedly fostered by the attempt to redirect one’s attention to the self in a non-judgmental way, to observe everything while not identifying with anything, to embrace both positive and negative thoughts, bad and good feelings, resources and limitations. Specifically, this broader view and awareness aims at improving one’s ability of being in touch with the self and therefore his/her authenticity and wholeness.

Such a process is helpful in two ways:

  • on one side, it helps us savor experiences to the full, not taking positive ones for granted while, at the same time, bearing negative ones. It also discourages us from activating avoidance processes while making room for unpleasant and uncomfortable feelings too;
  • on the other, it stops automatic thinking and reacting that lead us to give the same answers and/or to resort to unintentional, non-volitional behaviors.

Such an attitude supports the self-empowerment process in multiple ways:

  • it triggers motivation as it enables and empowers us to direct our focus inwards and to translate our feelings and experiences into forces and whishes capable of driving us;
  • it enables us to acknowledge and value our achievements, allowing us to live them to the full;
  • it enables us to recognize, sometimes even to unmask, and to face our resistances (i.e. our killers).

Try making this exercise: it might be useful to practice your ability of self-awareness and consciousness. This exercise is used as an introduction to mindfulness in the MBSR program, developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

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