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Mindfulness: A Definition

Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology


Beyond the brain’s
capacity to store factual information and perform various calculations, it has higher functions that enable us to:
 
   Prioritize our needs and interests

   Extract relevant facts from complex realities that are marred by
      distracting elements

   Make judgments and decisions based on a complex array of factors

   • Integrate seemingly unconnected facts into an enriched whole

   Communicate effectively with one another and elicit cooperation

    Empathize and feel emotional connection with others

The brain’s capacity to perform these higher functions encapsulates   the essence of mindfulness.  Mindfulness, however, is not simply an abstract concept that resides solely in the invisible realm of the brain, but can be found all around us.
     

Have you ever listened to a piece of music that seemingly touches the core of your soul, thrusting you into a realm far beyond the present moment, and all of its concerns?

Suddenly, your mind opens, and you see the world in a different light.  You no longer obsess over the details of your daily routine.  For some

inexplicable reason, you are able to tap into your innate creativity, and you realize that life is full of possibilities.  Without needing to hide, lie to yourself or hide behind a mask, you are able to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses.  You no longer feel the need to control or be controlled by others.  This is the power of mindfulness.

Perhaps you have encountered such individuals who have the ability to tune out the irrelevant distractions of the world, and focus solely on those things that truly matter.  These are people such as the doctor in the emergency room.  Though he knows that the chaos of the world rages around him, he is able to direct all of his energies toward the patient at hand, often with a human life hanging in the balance.

These are the people who can reach a higher plane of existence, that transcends the mediocre and the negative.  Mental power is an integral part of mindfulness, and cannot be obtained overnight.  It takes great patience. One of the best ways to develop mental focus is through the practice of meditation.

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