Feeling Anxious? Mindfulness Can Center Your Soul

By Allison Aubrey | February 4, 2020 | NPR Life Kit

Have you ever noticed how tough it is to be present? We spend so much time planning and worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.

“We’re in a trance of thinking. We’re time traveling,” says Tara Brach, a world-renowned psychologist and mindfulness teacher. “We’re in the future, we’re in the past.”

And all this ruminating gets in the way of enjoying life — we can miss out on the good stuff.

If you reflect on your life, Brach asks, how often can you sense that the fear of failing or not being good enough “was in some way dampening or contracting or pulling you away from real intimacy or spontaneity or enjoying a sunset?”

Life Kit host Allison Aubrey spoke with Brach about her latest book, Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN. The book outlines the mindfulness tool, RAIN, an acronym for a four-step process: recognize, allow, investigate and nurture.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What is mindfulness at its core. Can you describe mindfulness in a sentence or two?

Mindfulness is paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment without judgment.

What is the purpose? What is the benefit of paying attention to the present moment?

We step out of our thoughts about the past and the future, and we actually start occupying a space of presence that is bigger than the particular emotions or thoughts that are going on.

Mindfulness gives us more choice as to how we want to experience things, what we want to say, what we want to do. So instead of reacting, we can actually respond from more intelligence, more kindness. It actually lets us inhabit our best selves.

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