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Interview With Chris Burton

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the art of paying attention, on purpose, to our present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. What does that mean? It means being aware of whatever we are experiencing. There are several ways that we can do this: 1. Engage our senses. Engage with how you feel. Examine what you are thinking. Pay attention to how you are breathing. These are all things that can only be done in the present moment. Physical, sensations, emotions, thinking. The key is not to add a story to those things. Often we create stories around what we are experiencing. Without the story, you’re open to what the experience is; we have no preconceived notions of what something is. Take jealousy for an example. When you begin to feel jealous, ask yourself, “How does jealousy feel?” Can you be open to experiencing it a different way and be curious as to how else it might show up. Then ask yourself, “How can I be with what is” and at the same time - not trying to bring it to me or push it away.

What cause you to be interested in mindfulness?

I’ve always been interested in contemplative practices like that dealt with the subconscious mind such as hypnosis, channeling, and transcendental meditation. I then wanted to integrate a contemplative practice to use with young people that was secular and not based on spiritual elements, in order to tap into creativity of children. Before I began my mindfulness practice, I was, overly self conscious; constantly suffering from my concern with what others thought about me. I was worried about how I look in the world and perceived by the world. I didn’t leave room for me to be in my life with me. I spent so much time and energy repeating these negative stories to myself.

What are some of the benefits?

Right away you can begin to see some of the benefits like reduced stress, lessened anxiety, no panic attacks. Over time you see that you are more present for your life. Even a balanced person may not be present. Showing up for your life more fully is something that you will appreciate. You find yourself becoming less reactive to and instead more responsive to situations. Reaction is based on the past. Responsive based on what is - now in the present. Empathy & compassion comes from this resulting in space and you end up becoming a genuinely kinder person overall.

Who is mindfulness good for?

Every human being on planet earth; it’s for everyone. Primary reason: it helps manage your emotions (emotional regulation). We all suffer as human beings. This is a tool that helps manage that suffering. A mother who is overwhelmed and needs a break from the day to day tasks, anyone who suffers from any anxiety. You learn how to put space between you and what you are experiencing. There’s more observation than than identification with the emotion. It’s about having the experience as naked as possible. “What am I actually experiencing without adding a narrative to it. Just for what it is, can I see what it is. “

How do you remember to do it?

Do it with something that is already part of your routine. Add a post it note in your bathroom, so I’m reminded each time I brush my teeth. Sometimes I schedule it in my phone for a time you know you won’t be busy. Doing new things with someone else is always more fun, so I had a friend hold you accountable - call or text each other as a reminder.

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