This past weekend, I attended a conference for Speech-Language Pathologists here in British Columbia. I was fortunate to learn about several things, but the idea of Mindfulness, a new idea for me, was a topic that really stuck out in my mind, because I found that I could apply it to both clientele and to aspects of my own life.
What is Mindfulness???
The definition of mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994)
How is Mindfulness Cultivated?
Mindfulness is cultivated through forms of meditation and through informal practice. A person is asked to breath while focusing on physical sensations they are experiencing (i.e., what they see, hear, smell, feel, and taste). In order to achieve mindfulness, a person chooses one thing that he/she can focus on (e.g., a raisin, breathing, or a song), and then channel all thoughts and feelings to the object for a prolonged period of time.
In my seminar, we were mindful of raisins. Yes, we were asked to think about tiny dried grapes! We were instructed to take 3 raisins out of a box and hold them. We then silently focused how they felt in our hands and their weight and texture. Then, we put one in our mouth, thinking about how it felt and tasted prior to chewing. Next, we were instructed to chew it 15 times, thinking of the taste and texture as it was masticated. Finally, we were asked to swallow, paying attention to how it felt as it disappeared down our throats. When asked about our experiences during the exercise, people said they felt extremely focused and relaxed.
What are the Affects of Mindfulness?
By practicing mindfulness, one can experience feelings of calm, increased kindness and compassion towards one’s self, and self acceptance. Insight and awareness can also be developed, and persons living with chronic pain can learn to live with and even reduce it.
How I Plan to Use Mindfulness
As a speech-language pathologist, I plan to use mindfulness with specific stuttering clients. These individuals experience stress and tension in their bodies, which cause them to block sounds from coming out. Mindfulness can help them experience calm. In addition, becoming mindful will, hopefully, help older clients learn to accept themselves and be kind to themselves.
As an individual, I plan to use mindfulness to clear my mind and relax in this stressful world.