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    What Is Mindfulness, Really? And How Do You Know if You’re Doing It Right? | Diana Winston

    Mindfulness reduces suffering, improves tolerance of discomfort, creates mental space and ease, and enhances understanding and attunement to our bodies and minds.

    enAugust 25, 2023

    About this Episode

    Mindfulness is a word that is in danger of becoming meaningless. In this episode, we dig into the meaning of mindfulness, how to practice without getting overwhelmed, and how to stop the judgment spiral.


    Today’s guest is Diana Winston, the Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. She has written several books, including The Little Book of Being, and Fully Present, the Science, Art and Practice of Mindfulness, which she co-authored with Susan Smalley, and which is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Diana has been practicing mindfulness meditation since 1989, including a year as a Buddhist nun in Burma. 


    In this episode we talk about:


    • How Diana defines mindfulness
    • How we know if we’re in a state of bonafide mindfulness
    • The difference between mindfulness as a trait and mindfulness as a state 
    • Whether you have to meditate to achieve mindfulness as a trait
    • What current scientific research says about the benefits of meditation
    • The link between intuition, happiness and authenticity
    • Her definition of happiness
    • How meditation can help us relate to our bodies differently
    • How to stop the self-judgment spiral
    • Creating a top ten list to deal with difficult thoughts
    • How to use meditation for chronic pain
    • Striking a balance between reason and intuition
    • The ripple effects of practicing meditation
    • And how to start practicing mindfulness without getting overwhelmed


    Full Shownotes:https://www.tenpercent.com/tph/podcast-episode/diana-winston

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    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Mindfulness is the act of focusing on the present moment with an open and curious mindset, without judgment or analysis. It is a subjective experience that can be achieved through self-awareness and personal reflection.
    • Mindfulness is about being aware and present in the moment, leading to improved connections, relationships, and reduced reactivity. It is a practice that can be developed over time, making it accessible to everyone.
    • By consistently practicing mindfulness through meditation and daily tasks, individuals can develop it as a trait, leading to improved wellbeing, reduced stress, enhanced attention, and increased kindness.
    • Build a supportive meditation space, prioritize mindfulness, and establish a consistent practice routine to achieve desired results and changes in the brain.
    • Mindfulness is about making the effort to be present, even when distractions occur. It helps address body image and obsession issues, benefiting everyone.
    • Practicing mindfulness and self-compassion can improve body image, but societal issues related to body image require education and understanding.
    • By practicing self-compassion and shifting our inner dialogue to include positive self-talk, we can find calm, accept ourselves as we are, and develop a kinder approach towards ourselves.
    • By using mindfulness tools like self-judgment counting and practicing loving kindness, we can become aware of our thoughts, respond wisely to them, and cultivate a positive and compassionate mindset.
    • By practicing loving kindness, individuals can overcome negative thoughts and emotions, leading to a kinder and more compassionate mindset. Identifying and humorously recognizing negative thought patterns can greatly improve our relationship with them.
    • Recognize and challenge negative thoughts, embrace self-improvement, and practice mindfulness for greater peace and acceptance.
    • Mindfulness reduces suffering, improves tolerance of discomfort, creates mental space and ease, and enhances understanding and attunement to our bodies and minds.
    • By listening to our intuition, practicing mindfulness, and embracing authenticity, we can cultivate deeper connections, experience greater happiness, and focus on what truly matters in life.
    • True happiness comes from acceptance, connection, purpose, and meaningful relationships, with the potential to create a positive impact on individuals, relationships, and the world.
    • Mindfulness research should be viewed critically, with a focus on reading actual studies rather than relying solely on headlines. The mindfulness industry's growth must be monitored to ensure ethical practices benefit the right stakeholders.
    • Despite the massive revenue generated in the mindfulness industry, many teachers struggle to make a living. Allocating some of this revenue towards supporting and nurturing new mindfulness teachers would be beneficial.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    Practicing Mindfulness: Being Fully Present in the Moment

    Mindfulness is about paying attention to our present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with that experience. It means being fully present and not being lost in the past or future. The quality of our attention should be open, curious, and willing to be with the direct experience as it is, rather than trying to judge or analyze it. While there may not be a definitive way to measure or gauge whether we are in a state of bonafide mindfulness, it is a subjective experience that can be understood through self-awareness and personal reflection. It is important to practice mindfulness without constantly questioning or doubting ourselves, and to simply be with the present moment as it unfolds.

    The Power of Mindfulness: Being Present and Curious in the Moment

    Mindfulness is not about dwelling on the details or duration of a specific moment of meditation, but rather about how it affects our lives. It is about feeling more connected, having better relationships, and being less reactive. Mindfulness is a direct experience of being present and curious in the moment, such as feeling our feet on the ground. It is a basic practice that can be built upon over time, but it is important to recognize that our minds are constantly moving with a multitude of thoughts and sensations. However, with practice, we can focus our attention on the present moment and develop the ability to stay present. Mindfulness can be both a state that anyone can access and a trait that becomes a part of us with repeated practice.

    Cultivating Mindfulness as a Long-Term Trait

    Mindfulness can become a trait that is ingrained in us over time. Research shows that those who consider mindfulness as a trait tend to perform better on mindfulness tests because it becomes a part of their being. While meditation is a way to cultivate mindfulness, it can also be practiced throughout the day in different activities. By repeatedly practicing mindfulness, whether through meditation or in daily tasks, it can become a long-term trait. The benefits of mindfulness are numerous, including reducing stress, improving physical health, boosting the immune system, enhancing attention, and working with difficult emotions. People who have incorporated mindfulness into their lives have reported improved wellbeing, happiness, and kindness. When starting to cultivate mindfulness, it is important to keep the steps simple, create a supportive environment, stay motivated, and repeat the practice consistently.

    Creating the Right Environment and Fostering Motivation for Effective Meditation Practice

    Creating a supportive and dedicated space for meditation is crucial. This space can be as simple as a chair in a corner of a room or include elements like a photograph that aids in the habit-building process. Additionally, engaging in supportive environments such as retreats, joining meditation groups, or utilizing online resources can enhance the practice. The next key factor is motivation. Prioritizing mindfulness and recognizing its importance is essential. Taking a moment before each meditation session to contemplate personal motivations can help build and sustain motivation. Lastly, repetition is vital for cultivating mindfulness. It is through consistent practice over time that the desired results and changes in the brain occur. Finding the right time to meditate based on individual schedules and preferences is also crucial. Ultimately, the most important time to practice is the one that an individual will commit to regularly.

    The Challenges and Benefits of Mindfulness Practice

    Mindfulness can be both comforting and challenging. It is not always a warm and soothing experience, as difficult emotions can arise during practice. However, this is okay and can be beneficial. The "bad" meditation sessions, where the mind wanders and distractions occur, still count as long as the effort to come back to the present moment is made. Mindfulness is not about perfection, but about making the attempt to be present, even in the face of a restless mind. It helps us relate to our bodies in a different way, addressing issues of body image and obsession. Mindfulness is a practice that benefits everyone, regardless of gender.

    The Impact of Mindfulness and Self-Compassion on Body Image

    Mindfulness and self-compassion can have a positive impact on body image issues. Diana Winston conducted a research study where participants underwent a four-week protocol of mindfulness and self-compassion specifically focused on body image. The study showed improvement in the participants' body image, but it did not have an effect on their implicit bias or attitudes towards others. This highlights the need for education and understanding to address larger societal issues related to body image. Mindfulness helps individuals to recognize and not get caught up in negative self-judging voices, while self-compassion allows for a kinder and more accepting attitude towards oneself. Additionally, enlisting the wisdom mind, which is facilitated by mindfulness, allows for a deeper level of awareness and insight into one's judgments and emotions surrounding body image.

    Transforming Our Inner Dialogue Through Self-Compassion

    Practicing self-compassion and rewiring our inner dialogue can be transformative. Diana Winston explains that the wisdom mind, which can be seen as positive self-talk, can help us accept ourselves as we are and find a sense of calm and ease. By combining this with compassion and recognizing that many others feel the same way, we can develop a kinder and more gentle approach towards ourselves. Dan Harris emphasizes the importance of consciously changing our inner dialogue and treating ourselves with the same kindness we would offer to a friend or loved one. This process of self-compassion requires persistence and vigilance, as the negative voices in our head are often deep and intense. However, by acknowledging these thoughts and reframing them with humor, like "Even the chipmunks hate me, the sky is blue," we can detach from their power and find liberation from self-criticism.

    The power of mindfulness tools and techniques in cultivating self-compassion and wisdom.

    Mindfulness tools can help us see our humanity and find a place of ease. One effective tool is counting the number of self-judgmental thoughts, which can reveal the ridiculousness of our own thinking patterns. By recognizing and acknowledging our judgments, we can begin to respond wisely and rebut them with the wisdom mind. However, it's important not to judge ourselves for judging, as this can create a negative cycle. Instead, we can use mental notes or labeling techniques to distance ourselves from our thoughts without aversion. Additionally, practicing loving kindness can be helpful in cultivating a more positive and compassionate mindset in our Mindfulness practice.

    Incorporating Loving Kindness into Mindfulness Practice

    Incorporating loving kindness into mindfulness practice can lead to a more genuine and balanced approach. Initially, the idea of sending positive phrases to oneself and others may seem cheesy or unnecessary. However, once individuals let go of their initial aversion and judgments, they can experience the benefits of a "balmy inner weather" that promotes genuine mindfulness. By practicing loving kindness, individuals can relieve themselves of negative thoughts and emotions and cultivate a kinder and more compassionate mindset. It is important to identify the top 10 negative thought patterns that often trap our minds and recognize them with understanding and humor, leading to a shift in our relationship with these thoughts and a more easeful experience.

    Cultivating self-awareness for positive growth

    Self-awareness is essential in identifying and addressing our mental habits. It is important to recognize the quality of our thoughts and how we perceive ourselves. While some thoughts may hold some truth, it is crucial to examine the way we remind ourselves of our shortcomings. The act of self-criticism and self-hatred only perpetuates negative thinking patterns. Instead, we should focus on acknowledging areas for improvement and strive to act in kinder and better ways. Mindfulness can also be a powerful tool in managing physical pain by observing the pain without judgment and being aware of the stories we create around it. By understanding the multi-layered nature of pain and the narratives we attach to it, we can find greater peace and acceptance.

    Practicing mindfulness for a better quality of life

    Practicing mindfulness can help us reduce suffering, even in the face of pain or difficult emotions. By bringing mindfulness to our experiences, such as chronic pain, we can improve our quality of life and our ability to tolerate discomfort. Mindfulness allows us to see what is happening without getting caught up or overwhelmed by it, creating space and ease in our minds. Additionally, through mindfulness practice, we can develop a deeper knowing or intuition. This intuition is a sense of knowing that comes from within, separate from the chatter and noise of our thoughts. It helps us access a greater understanding and attunement to our bodies and minds, enhancing our overall experience of life.

    Intuition, Mindfulness, and Authenticity: Pathways to Happiness

    Intuition is deeply connected to happiness and authenticity. When we tap into our intuition, it puts us in touch with ourselves, allowing us to be more real and authentic. This authenticity leads to greater happiness because it enables us to connect with others more deeply. Mindfulness practice plays a role in this by helping us take things less personally and admit when we're wrong, fostering more authenticity and better connections. By not taking our ego too seriously and realizing that our thoughts do not define us, we become more open to feedback and less defensive. This shifts our focus from protecting ourselves to showing up genuinely, leading to a happier state of being. Ultimately, happiness is not about material possessions, but about being true to ourselves and connecting with others.

    The Power of Happiness in Individual and Team Efforts

    Happiness is not just an individual pursuit, but also a team effort. Diana Winston emphasizes that true happiness comes from deep acceptance, connectedness with oneself, others, and the world, and a sense of purpose and meaning. Research has shown that relationships and connections with others play a vital role in our happiness. Dan Harris adds that while happiness may seem like an individual pursuit, it also has a direct impact on improving relationships and making others happier. This pursuit of happiness extends beyond individuals to institutions, communities, and the world at large. By transforming ourselves through practices like mindfulness, we can create a ripple effect of kindness, compassion, and awareness, ultimately contributing to global happiness.

    Approaching Mindfulness Research and Industry Growth with Caution

    Mindfulness has shown positive results in scientific studies, but it is important to approach these findings with caution and not overly hype them. Mindfulness is not a cure-all solution and there is still a lot of research to be done with bigger sample sizes and better controls. It is crucial to read the actual studies instead of relying solely on headlines or media summaries. The conversation also highlights the growth of the mindfulness industry, which has become a multi-billion dollar business. While this growth has made mindfulness practices more accessible to a larger audience, it is essential to monitor and ensure that the industry remains ethical and benefits the right stakeholders.

    The Importance of Supporting Mindfulness Teachers with Industry Revenue

    The value of a company is determined by its revenue and potential for growth. While some companies may be worth billions of dollars, this does not mean that there are greedy individuals benefiting from this wealth. In many cases, the revenue generated is reinvested into running the business and supporting its operations. However, it is important to consider the distribution of wealth and resources in certain fields, such as mindfulness teaching. Despite the growing popularity of mindfulness practices, many teachers struggle to make a living and rely on side gigs or passion projects. It would be beneficial to see some of the multi-billion dollar revenue in these industries allocated towards supporting and nurturing new mindfulness teachers.

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