The “being” mode emphasized in mindfulness practice is a good compliment or counterbalance to a task-oriented approach to caregiving. Training in mindfulness is a primary method through which contemplative care can be achieved and skills developed.
Participants in our classes and courses receive instruction in mindful awareness practices in order to cultivate the capacity of being present in the moment and to deepen their understanding of the principles of contemplative care. Woven into the fabric of the curriculum are practices that include sitting meditation and mindful activity practices such as cooking and healing touch. The depth of insight and concentration reached through engagement with meditation alters the very landscape of giving and receiving care.
Contemplative care qualities developed through mindfulness training include openness, self-awareness and insight; enhanced speaking and listening skills; the sharpening of insight; and an appreciation of the world’s diversity and richness. From this self-understanding comes equanimity and an ability to appreciate the value of another’s perspective.
About Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness Meditation is a way to quiet and calm the mind by paying non-judgmental attention to your moment-to-moment experience. The purpose of mindfulness is to simply observe the ever-changing nature of experiences in a nonjudgmental way without analyzing, interpreting, or reacting to the experiences.
It involves maintaining an appropriate amount of distance from one’s experiences that allows one to create the mental space needed to non-judgmentally observe your thoughts and feelings as they arise, while still being aware of and connected to your feelings. Mindfulness meditation includes examination of the nature of mind, consciousness, and the moment to moment flow of experiences (i.e., bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings). Attention is focused, yet permitted to shift to what arises and disappears in the field of awareness. This type of awareness enables one to be fully present in the here and now without dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
In addition, scientific studies have proven that meditation helps restore and maintain a sense of personal balance and develop the skills to avoid emotional and physical depletion. This is important not only for persons who are facing stress-related conditions, but also for persons who want to avoid physical or professional burnout. We need to care for ourselves as we attend to the needs of our clients. In fact, learning to balance the emotional demands of caregiving with other personal and professional pressures is central to contemplative care and vital to health and longevity.