Strengthening Moment-to-Moment Awareness

A 15-minute breathing exercise to focus your attention.

If you recall my metaphor for the mind as an MP3 player, this is where we can consider mindfulness as keeping that “play” button continuously engaged. We’re not rewinding or fast-forwarding. Instead, we’re pressing the “play” button in order to be in the here and now and experience the moment-to-moment unfolding of our lives. 

Mindfulness is a very powerful tool and concept that’s important to understand. The way I’ve defined it is as a mental mode, a way of making the mind. And this is done by paying attention to present-moment experience without elaborating or telling a story about it, or having reactivity around it. Mindfulness is keeping the mind present, on “play,” and having curiosity and full engagement with what’s going on right now. 

As I’ve mentioned before, in my lab, we think about mindfulness not simply as a concept: we consider mindfulness training a cognitive training tool. To understand this more fully, we need to understand what the workout is—what the exercises are—that make it cognitive training. So today I want to review one foundational mindfulness practice with you: mindful breathing. This is what we call a focused-attention practice. 

Breathe In, Breathe Out

So, let me just describe…

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About the author

Amishi Jha

Principal Investigator, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of Contemplative Neuroscience, Mindfulness Research & Practice Initiative, University of Miami. Her research focuses on the brain bases of attention, working memory, and mindfulness-based training. With grants from the US Department of Defense and several private foundations, her current projects investigate how to best promote resilience in high stress cohorts using contemplative/mind training techniques that strengthen the brain’s attention networks. She was selected as a Science and Public Leadership Fellow by PopTech, and serves on editorial review boards of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Frontiers in Cognitive Science, and Frontiers in Psychology.

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