As Americans, we live multitasking, distracting, over-stimulating and stress-fueling lives. What is gaining traction? Mindfulness.
Chances are — if you follow the buzz in business, take a yoga and meditation class or pick up a décor magazine — you have heard about mindfulness. Google endorsed it in trainings. Apple developed its own app. What these companies practice filters down.
The father of the mindfulness movement, Jon Kabat-Zinn, says, “At the very highest levels of any field — Fortune 50 CEOs, the most impressive artists and musicians, the top athletes, the best teachers and mechanics — you’ll find mindful people, because that’s the only way to get there.”
Three practitioners, in coaching, health care and architecture, share how mindfulness is useful to them.
Mindfulness = Happier People
Bethesda mindfulness coach Sarah Schain empowers stressed-out individuals, including homeless-shelter residents, patients at Walter Reed, busy professionals and over-scheduled moms.
Schain explains: “Stress is part of each person’s life, no matter what their circumstances. I teach how to be present in each breath. The full breath is a tool. Breath-holding creates more stress. It causes the body to go into red alert, fight or flight. Mindfulness allows choice in thought versus reaction, no matter the situation. Clients can take the reins of their life by developing an emotional pause button.”
The Mindful Doctor-Patient Connection
Dr. Sheila Hofert teaches mindfulness to physicians at Johns Hopkins. She says: “Trying to take care of so many patients in a short period of time, trying to get through your day, dealing with complicated patient issues, thinking, ‘Oh my God, what do they want from me, how can I fix the problem?’ causes burnout.” She continues: “A mindful doctor pays attention, starts with open-ended questions, plays a listening game and is in touch with their own compassion. This allows a more accurate diagnosis. And the patient can tell the difference, opening doors for the patient and the doctor.”
Georgetown architect Travis Price designs mindful buildings and living spaces. “Think about the feelings you have when walking in a mall — the bright light, items on display, music, people moving about. Compare that to the quiet, calm reverence you feel in a church, synagogue or mosque. The place puts the brain in a state of purpose,” says Price. “We construct living and working spaces depending on the client’s goal, allowing functioning at the highest level.”
Let the science win you over
Still not sure? They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But with mindfulness the brain is put in a state of “learning.” Thousands of brain scans demonstrate the brain’s ability to change, that we are not our past choices, and transformation is possible because what we practice grows stronger.
Try Mindfulness Yourself
Download a free app on mindfulness training and mediation. Schain recommends Insight Timer to practice and see what results are possible.
You may notice more time, more joy — maybe inner peace. Maybe a place where the ultimate mindful dwelling is living in your own skin.
Rebekah Kelley is the founder of Virtue Skinfood, a wholistic luxury skin care line. To find out more, visit
virtueskinfood.com or One80 Salon at 1275 K St. NW.