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Photo By Brian Tietz
Photo By Brian Tietz

With a decade or two of leeway, “living in the moment” had its first moment 1,600 years ago. Some historical scholars believe Buddha invented the practice of “sati” or the “moment-to-moment awareness of present events.” It would take another 1,300 years for mindfulness to find its way to the Western world.

John Kabat-Zinn, a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, studied Buddhism while at the university’s Institute of Technology. He used his expertise to open the school’s Stress Reduction Clinic in 1979 and taught a program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

A decade later, Kabat-Zinn authored the book Full Catastrophe Living. It brought international acclaim to mindfulness. Sub-titled “Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness,” the work details mind-body medicine and the interconnections between physical and mental health. The book was revised in 2013 and is viewed as a milestone in the global expansion of mindfulness practices.

Much has happened since the professor’s book was published. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national public health agency in Atlanta, reported in 2018 that meditation was the fastest-growing health trend in the United States. Mindfulness tenets are components of some forms of meditation.

The Mayo Clinic, the 160-year-old nonprofit academic medical center headquartered in Minnesota, serves four regions of the country, including Jacksonville. Like other prominent medical facilities, it recognizes and embraces the practice of mindfulness. It details four major components: Paying Attention, Living in the Moment, Accepting Yourself and Focusing on Breathing.

Angela Tarquini-Sanders, owner and founder of Mindful Mindz in Naples, offers individual and group workshops on mindfulness. The program includes developing skills to, as she says on her website, “manage the constant mind chatter and create space for peace, calm and a new perspective; effectively manage stress and anxiety; notice how your thoughts and feelings affect your present moment experience; focus your mind for greater clarity and increased productivity.” Tarquini-Sanders’ teachings reflect a general mindfulness concept: Experiencing one’s environment at a slower pace is essential to wellness.

Kabat-Zinn’s video series, available on YouTube and posted on the Mindful Mindz platform, stresses common misconceptions: “I bend over backward not to try mindfulness as a commodity,” says Kabat-Zinn. “The more mindfulness is on peoples’ lists, the more it is in the media and in some sense touted and hyped, the more I have to work overtime to kind of remind people, this isn’t some kind of dime store gimmick or the newest fad.”

The author and former professor stresses that mindfulness is a “deep, profound way, a disciplined shifting of a way of being. It’s a major challenge to undertake an authentic mindfulness practice.”

The Mayo Clinic’s guidelines for mindfulness include exercises and concise applications.

Sensory awareness—experiencing and appreciating touch, sound, sight, smell and taste—is often taken for granted. Mindfulness slows down the daily grind to enjoy life, with practices including nonjudgment to trust, acceptance to letting go, patience to nonstriving and gratitude to generosity.

Maggie Stevens of Metta Mindfulness in Fort Myers teaches a variety of mindfulness workshops. The company’s website describes mindfulness as “clear seeing, loving awareness or paying attention in a friendly way without judgment. Mindfulness is being curious about what is present in one’s body, mind, emotions and environment.”

Kabat-Zinn, more than 45 years into his mindfulness journey, succinctly states, “When it’s all said and done, it’s really a love affair with life, with yourself and with your possibilities. In that way, no one can take it away from you. Your experience is your own.”

Mindfulness businesses in Southwest Florida

Caloosahatchee Mindfulness


Metta Mindfulness

Lotus Blossom Clinic

6710 Winkler Road, Suite 2, Fort Myers


Mindful Mindz



Mindful Therapeutics

10621 Airport-Pulling Road #7, Naples


Open Mind Zen

1250 Tamiami Trail N., Naples


(Relocation to Estero pending)

The Mindful Health Foundation

865 91st Ave., Naples


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