Mindfulness and Mindful Attention: Definitions
Mindfulness is a psychological process that brings one’s attention to the present moment. Essentially, it is the state of being conscious about the here-and-now. One way this state could be achieved is through meditation.
Mindful meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and psychology and neuroscience are increasingly showing interest in its ability to ameliorate various problems, which can include stress, anxiety, chronic pain, eating disorders, nicotine dependence, and sleep disorders. Successful mindful meditation enables us to relate our thoughts to mental experiences.
This is where the term mindful attention has been coined. Researchers have defined this term as our ability to use thought processes as means to regulate our own behavior.
To simplify this definition, imagine a hot, sweet, and strong cup of coffee. What would your first reaction be? If you were a coffee fan, you would not have second thoughts. You will, definitely, drink it all up, maybe while reading a good book, too! Your motivation to get that coffee has translated into a desire, which resulted in your behavior of drinking coffee. Simply thinking about that stimulus, the coffee, activates areas in your brain that interact with the stimulus automatically. This means that you would drink the coffee without really thinking about it. Therefore, your awareness of how that coffee cup suddenly became so desirable was unconsciously manifested. This works with other behaviors, too.
Mindful attention assists you in stopping these unconscious impulses. It enables you to act on your motivations in a less automatic and more conscious way. How? You would just learn how to observe your own mental processes. Basically, you would recognize that the nature of your experiences, which include motivation, desire, and behavior, are mere mental events. You would acknowledge that those inevitable experiences are only in your mind.
Mindful Attention: The Positives
Why is mindful attention so important? Primarily, your ability to regulate your experiences gives you a sense of empowerment. Mindful attention makes you in control of your own behaviors and thoughts. Instead of enduring overwhelming desires, psychological distress, and physiological imbalances, you would have the ability to live through more positive encounters. Research has shown that mindful attention improves attention regulation, benefits physical and mental health, reduces stress, facilitates emotion regulation, and helps you remove those extra pounds!
With the latest research commending the impacts of mindfulness and mindful attention on individuals, Eastwood International School takes pride in implementing a program just for that! Students, K-12, take sessions of mindfulness throughout the academic year. Eastwood is the only school in Lebanon that equips its students with such powerful tools. The spirit, mind, and body do not exist as separate entities. It is our duty, as educators, to help our students develop holistically.
With this in mind, and with one conscious breath at a time, consider mindfulness as a way to stop your thoughts from controlling you.
Michel A. Khoury
Eastwood Schools Director