What you should know about mindfulness


Genevieve Guenther

Sara Sipes, Contributing Writer

Mindfulness: The health craze that you’ve been hearing about finally has a definition. According to mindful.org, “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” This ability may be achieved through intense meditation and yoga.

The modernized concept was created in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn when he founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program in order to treat illnesses at the University of Massachusetts. However, mindfulness in itself dates back thousands of years, made popular in the East for secular practitioners.

Wilmington, N.C. business owner Jen Johnson regularly practices mindfulness by focusing on “authenticity, compassion, joy, and well-being” as she teaches an 8-week course on MSBR.

“Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an 8-week class that teaches mindfulness meditation and gentle yoga to cultivate awareness and reduce stress,” Johnson says. “Participation in MBSR has been shown to decrease stress, increase peace and well-being, and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as symptoms of a number of medical conditions, including high blood pressure and heart disease, arthritis, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, chronic pain, insomnia, and fatigue.”

However, mindfulness is more than just a cure for health problems. Many participate in mindfulness in order to be at peace with their own self and the world around them. UNCW students who are interested in learning more about and achieving this heightened state of awareness can sign up here for Johnson’s course about MBSR, which includes intensive training within the mindfulness practice.

At a more centralized scale, UNCW offers a free program titled “In Harmony” which includes focus on areas of mindfulness, heart-rate variability feedback, breathing techniques and meditation. Additionally, drop-in meditation sessions are offered every Wednesday from 12:15-12:45 p.m. until November 29 in Saffo Room 2009, which is located upstairs in the Fisher Student Center.