Demystifying Mindfulness

May 17, 2017

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Murray State psychology professor Dr. Michael Bordieri and Tracy Ross demystify mindfulness on Sounds Good.

Mindfulness was a tough sell when the concept was introduced into western medicine in the 1980s, but today it is referenced frequently in every day life. There is everything from mindful yoga to mindful eating and hundreds of apps dedicated to mindfulness. So what exactly is mindfulness?

Bordieri says being mindful is focusing on the moment. You can focus on your breathing, notice the sounds around you, or just let yourself experience a feeling without judgment. Being mindful is a way to pay attention to the experiences that matter.

People often confuse mindfulness with religion, Bordieri says. Though the practice is a core component of many religious experiences, it is not a religious expression in the world of mental health. Mindfulness is also not solely about feeling good. In fact, Bordieri says, mindfulness can be most beneficial in times of intense unpleasant emotions.

“We confuse or we trick ourselves into being mindful just to feel better in the moment, and that’s really not the purpose of it. At the core, mindfulness is experiencing the moment exactly as it is,” Borideri said. “The job is simply to pay attention, to notice without judgment.

"And that’s the real big piece in mindfulness, is this non-judgmental posture. And so what that means really it’s accepting. And accepting doesn’t mean liking, it doesn’t mean enjoying, but it means giving yourself permission to feel exactly what you’re feeling… We can use mindfulness to acknowledge the time when our emotions are not positive or happy and still be okay in those moments.”

Lastly, Bordieri says mindfulness is not a quick fix, rather it is an ongoing and evolving process of taking a few moments each day to notice where you are, what is around you, and how you are feeling.