Have you ever watched your mind at work?
Have you ever noticed its tendency to jump from thought to thought without any real connection between the first and the next?
Most of us go through our day paying very little mind to … our Minds. In fact, we are often oblivious of its activities, outside of acknowledging that yes, there does seem to be a perpetual stream of consciousness.
How often do you make a point to become fully aware to yourself in the course of the day?
As a practice this is called Mindfulness, or Awareness, and it describes a spiritual or psychological conditioning of one’s consciousness central to the teachings of various meditative and religious traditions.
It’s also one of the underlying core principles to the work we do here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
In essence, Mindfulness is the way one might live more fully by always remaining aware of the present moment, aware of who you are, where you are, what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how it’s happening. This is imperative for transcending beyond the usual state of ignorance and into realms of grace and perfect tranquility.
But Mindfulness is more than just an ancient practice of total awareness. This concept of being “in the present moment” is still a highly valued concept, perhaps even more so by those who feel like they just never have enough time in the day. This is exactly why our founder, Marc David, developed the field of Mind Body Nutrition. He understood the power of how such a practice could improve our health and wellness and allow others to find a greater sense of happiness amidst the chaos of life.
The History of Mindfulness
The word Mindfulness is derived from the Pali word sati, which translates to “memory.” The Brahmans of ancient India used this word sati in reference to the memorization of large Vedic passages. In order to memorize such extended segments of scripture, they would maintain an almost trance-like state, and enter a space governed by intense focus and total recall.
Adopting and augmenting this idea, the Buddhists used sati in several different ways to enhance their presence of mind, intellectual focus, and an openness of spirit. Buddha taught that Mindfulness should be established both as a spiritual principle in a person’s life, and as a daily practice. Everyone should have a calm awareness of the sensations in their body, their emotional state, and their spiritual presence.
Turn’s out, this is more difficult than it sounds.
This teaching was central for a reason. Not only was it a true path that anyone could practice, but it would also continue to evolve our understandings about our world and ourselves in a variety of applications.
In short, its usefulness did not stop with Buddha’s path to liberation. And this is why the Mind Body connection is the crux to our Eating Psychology Curriculum.
Mindfulness in the Modern World
In 1979, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program. Dr. Kabat-Zinn used these same principles of Mindfulness to treat his chronically ill patients.
His approach to Mindfulness centered on bringing one’s complete attention of oneself to the cusp of the present moment. He believed that paying attention to life in a singular, wholly committed, unwavering way would allow for a greater reduction in stress levels, increased feelings of happiness and peace, and a more positive outlooks on one’s self and one’s future.
Since this 1979 study, Mindfulness as a practice has grown both in popularity and methodology in the worlds of psychiatry, psychology, and mind body healing. Anyone following such a practice for spiritual reasons would be happy, no doubt, to corroborate such effects. Although it’s a way of thinking and being that put down roots many long centuries ago, it still has powerful practical applications.
Mindfulness is Wellness
Even today, researchers conduct studies on the function and evolution of Mindfulness in the context of a modern psychology. While there’s no telling where the practical usage of it may go next, there’s no denying its success in the past.
As a tool for overall wellness, Mindfulness has been incredibly beneficial.
Over the years, Mindfulness has been portioned off into various specific psychological programs. Due to the different influences on the founders, such as Zen, non-violence, Mindfulness has been, in part, a foundation of Morita Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Adaptation Practice, and Hakomi Therapy, and so many more – each offering their own unique success stories.
Even Brown University has a page dedicated to Dr. Kabat-Zinn Mindfulness principles to assist students in dealing with stress and other common college health issues.
UCLA has an entire research center dedicated to it as part of their Semel Institute, in order to learn more about the potential of this practice of engaging with your own consciousness in time.
Just recently, The New York Daily News published an article on the study conducted by UC-Davis concerning the positive effects of Mindfulness Meditation on cortisol – the stress hormone. They also referenced another past study published in the Brain, Behavior & Immunity Journal, which found that mindfulness meditation helped the elderly battle feelings of loneliness while also boosting their over all experience of health.
No matter where you find them, the studies are conclusive that Mindfulness practices provide incredible benefits to the Mind and Body:
- Increases immune response and brain function
- Decreases stress
- Increases academic performance
- Increases focus in the face of stressful situations
- Reduces chronic and acute pain
Mindfulness in Mind Body Nutrition
The relationship between our awareness and an experience of over-all wellness is inextricable, and so here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, we’ve built some of our key principles around taking time and becoming aware of our Mind-Body relationship and inward knowledge of ourselves. Psychology and Mindfulness are merely two sides of a single coin: one describes a state of being and the other invites us to enter into it.
This is why we employ Mindfulness practices in engaging our student’s understanding around their relationship with food, health, sexuality, body image, immunity, nutrition and more.
Perhaps we are beginning to realize that Mindfulness is just an ancient way of listening with the heart, a practice greatly needed for our busy modern mindsets.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training, or any of our other offerings please sign up for our free information packed video series called “The Dynamic Eating Psychology Breakthrough” here or email us at [email protected] to learn more.
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014
If you haven’t had a chance to check out our FREE information packed video series – The Dynamic Eating Psychology Breakthrough – you can sign up for it HERE. It’s a great way to get a better sense of the work we do here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. If you’re inspired by this work and want to learn about how you can become certified as an Eating Psychology Coach, please go HERE to learn more. And if you’re interested in working on your own personal relationship with food, check out our breakthrough 8-week program designed for the public – Transform Your Relationship with Food™ HERE.