Vermont Mindfulness

About Mindfulness

Donna Smith: Qualified MBSR Teacher, UMASS Center for Mindfulness in Healthcare, Medicine, and Society; advanced training ongoing at the Brown University Mindfulness Center. Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science, University of Vermont.

Human potential has long intrigued me.  How might we live if we pause to consider our habits and the stories we tell ourselves and others?  What can we discover when we explore our choices and the outcomes of those choices? Can we lean into our lives with courage and honesty to discover the depth of our compassion, connection, and capacity to flourish?  

Self-efficacy and compassion are fundamental to healthy human development.  When we believe in our ability to control our behaviors and authentically connect with ourselves and others, we elevate purpose and meaning in our lives. We thrive, as individuals and as communities. 

Mindfulness practice is a gentle attention to present-moment experience, seeing things just as they are.  It involves awareness of physical sensations, thoughts, feelings, and emotions without criticism.  It creates space to see things clearly.  No matter what is happening in our lives, we can cultivate skills that allow us to step away from habitual, reactive patterns. 

Sound simple?  It is!  But it isn’t easy.  It takes practice.  Mindfulness is not about eliminating challenges in our lives, but rather responding to them in a more skillful manner.  Developing mindfulness skills can help transform our day-to-day lives and lead to greater personal freedom.  Mindfulness practice builds mental flexibility and cultivates resilience.  

As a health care provider for over 25 years, I have witnessed life-changing challenges that many of my patients faced, including strokes, spinal cord injuries, and chronic diseases.  I observed the various ways people tend to respond to illness, noticing how mental dexterity and self-compassion positively influence healing.  Furthermore, I noticed how working in a stressful environment that calls for significant compassion can quickly lead to burnout and compassion-fatigue.  

Mindfulness meditation offers a door to self-acceptance and profound awareness of our humanity.  In this awareness, we can discover resilience, personal agency, and belonging.  This is a place we can call home.