Mindfulness in Mentoring—an Opportunity for Shared Exploration and Discovery
The practice of mindfulness has been around for centuries, dating back to 500 B.C. as an integral element in Buddhist teachings. It has been woven into many cultures and philosophies since then, and made its way into American considerations in 1979 via the efforts of Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Over the years, Kabat-Zinn and others have helped mindfulness grow in popularity, partly by playing down the religious and philosophical elements that often turn off prospective practitioners, and focused on its potential to help people reduce stress and increase focus on everyday tasks.
A quick internet search generates a plethora of books and articles on the subject. They all center on the same core premise that practicing mindfulness involves learning how to be more aware of what is going on around you in the present moment. And a key element in every approach is making an intentional effort to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations without passing judgement or making commentary.
Many resources teach you to implement mindfulness techniques into your daily life, and how the practice can improve physical and emotional health as well as improve relations with friends, family, and co-workers. Some resources delve into diet, exercise, and leveraging everyday opportunities to practice awareness.
So how do you choose which path is right for you? Start with your own search and tug on the threads that catch your eye. Are you interested in the roots of mindfulness as they relate to Buddhist teachings and the practice of Vipassana and Metta meditation? Or do you just want to learn a few exercises that can help reduce stress and improve focus? Perhaps you are interested in recent studies conducted that show the science behind the potential benefits of practicing mindfulness.
Learning more about practicing mindfulness can benefit mentoring partnerships in at least two ways. First, it can help partners discover ways to be more in tune with their mentoring moments, and more aware and present for each other during their meetings. Second, partners can explore the topic together, identifying things about practicing mindfulness that they share an interest or curiosity in.