Mindfulness is one of the recommended mind-body approaches for managing chronic pain. There are some good studies suggesting significant benefit of of practicing mindfulness after just a few weeks. But what is it? I struggled recently to write a clear description. Those who think of mindfulness as a religious/spiritual concept, are missing some important and interesting research.

Ellen Langer began researching mindfulness over 40 years ago and her approach remains scientific. She gives us this interesting way to experiment with mindfulness. She suggests that when we encounter someone, at home, at work, or even on the phone, to just play with noticing 5 specific things about them. Paying attention to the details that we don’t usually see or notice lets these people become new and interesting again. This shifts not only how we will interact with them, but how they relate to us.

Here is a quote:”Ellen Langer is a social psychologist who some have dubbed “the mother of mindfulness.” But she defines mindfulness with counterintuitive simplicity: the simple act of actively noticing things with a result of increased health, competence, and happiness. Her take on mindfulness has never involved contemplation or meditation or yoga. It comes straight out of her provocative, unconventional studies, which have been suggesting for decades what neuroscience is pointing at now: our experience of everything is formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. What makes a vacation a vacation is not only a change of scenery, but the fact that we let go of the mindless everyday illusion that we are in control. She’s showing it’s possible to become physiologically younger through a changed frame of mind, to find joy in what was experienced as drudgery by renaming it as play, and to induce weight loss by substituting the label “exercise” for labor.” From OnBeing.

You can listen to the fascinating interview with Ellen.By the way Krista Tippett is my most favorite interviewer. See and hear more here.

Vidyamala Burch (see my last post) and Rick Hanson (see my book review), Arianna Huffington, Tami Simon of Sounds True, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Joseph Goldstein, and many more share their tips, stories, and some of the best ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life.