Mindfulness is great, in moderation. If you want to know why I’d say that, check out positive psychology researchers Todd Kashdan’s and Robert Biswas Diener’s book, The Up Side of Your Dark Side (2014).
They talk about how the most psychologically flexible people benefit from being able to switch between mindfulness and a specific sort of mindlessness (which is minus the negative meanings that I usually attach to that word), rather than sticking with one mode or the other. They also write about the usefulness of integrating mindlessness and mindfulness to avoid bias or stereotyping. It also seems that integrating mindful and mindless thinking helps us make better decisions in situations where’s there’s a lot of information and factors to take into account.
All this is fascinating stuff. Yet there is, as I’m sure you’re well aware, growing evidence that mindfulness practices boost the immune system, increase positive emotion and help us handle stress in helpful ways (cited in the Kashdan & Biswas-Diener mentioned above). Engaging in mindfulness practices is indeed a good thing, and there’s a number of ways to do so.
Last month, I attended a great training on leading others in writing for well-being. The facilitators, John Evans and Karen Jooste, integrated mindfulness activities into the 3 day workshop. I am really excited about sharing what I learned with you and look forward to doing that in a variety of ways.
Here’s one, a mindful writing exercise, created by John Evans and shared during the workshop I attended. I invite you to give it a try.
The Six A’s of Mindful Writing
You can write on a computer, mobile device or on paper. Use each sentence stem, without taking too long to respond. This writing is just for you, so you don’t have to make it polished or error free. Just write. Settle comfortably, take a few deep breaths, notice what’s going on around and within you.
- Awareness. “I am aware of….”
- Attention. “I pay attention to…”
- Acceptance. “I accept that…”
- Appreciation. “I appreciate that…”
- Affection. “I have affection for…”
- Affirmation. “I affirm that…”
Try this exercise at different times and in different settings, as your responses may change with a change in context. Give it a try and let me know what you learn from it.