New meditation classes teaching technique called 'mindfulness'

By LaKisha Ladson

Did a co-worker take credit for something you did? Was a meeting entirely too long? Or maybe last night you disagreed with your significant other, then you received a late-night phone call about a sick relative, and during today’s commute you got cut off by another driver.

“When we don’t have time to digest emotional experiences of the day, we’re left in a state of tension,” said Dr. Marty Lumpkin, clinical associate professor of psychology at UT Southwestern. “You end up carrying collected tensions like undigested food.”

Dr. Lumpkin wants to help employees at the medical center deal more efficiently with tension. In October he started teaching a technique called “mindfulness” that’s designed to foster clarity and calm even in the midst of stress storms.

“Mindfulness is bringing one’s attention to the present moment and staying there without judging what is going on,” he said.

The Monday Night Mindfulness Group has five aspects:

  • Intent — choosing to be in the moment;
  • Wakeful energy — cultivating relaxed alertness;
  • Attention — sustaining focus on some present experience instead of mental wandering;
  • Awareness — open perception to the whole variety of current experiences; and
  • Acceptance — the attitude of non-judging or non-resistance to what arises in our experiences.

The open classes cost $25 per month. The group centers on sitting meditation but also explores other types, such as walking and moving meditations.

Dr. Lumpkin said practicing in a group can be more inspiring than trying to do it alone.

“The person meditating often finds focusing easier with a group of people, and that energizes his or her practice,” he said.

Meditation groups meet from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Mondays in the Bass Center Pavilion, which houses the division of psychology. The program is part of the division’s Behavioral Health Initiative. Sign up through www.martinlumpkin.com.

 

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