The Integrative Whole Health approach is built around the Circle of Health. “Me” is at the center, representing individualized, patient centered care. Immediately surrounding it is the “Mindful Awareness” circle, which bridges between Me and the rest of the circle, including the eight areas of self-care and the various aspects of professional care, not to mention community. To create a Personal Health Plan (PHP), people need to tune in; they need to be aware of their sense of Meaning, Aspiration, Purpose (MAP), as well as which areas of self-care they want to focus on. It is also important that they tune in to symptoms they are experiencing, as well as to what therapies or approaches they believe could be of benefit. Questions like the following (among many others) are essential to ask, in an open-minded, curious way:

  • What really matters to me? Why do I want to be healthy in the first place?
  • What are my symptoms telling me?  What does my body need?
  • How am I doing emotionally? How do I feel? What are healthy ways to help myself feel better?
  • How is my thinking?  Are my thought patterns healthy?  Am I focusing too much on something? Are there things I need to think about that I am not paying attention to?
  • How well am I able to live my life? What can help me function better from day to day?
  • Who can help me be healthier? Are there treatments or tests or complementary approaches that I should look into?
  • How can my community support me?  How much would I like to be involved with different groups or organizations?

The Mindful Awareness Overview defines mindful awareness and provides a number of examples of how people can bring it into their lives.  Some practices are informal; that is you bring full attention to a typical daily activity, like doing laundry or petting your dog. Others are more formal.  These practices, such as doing a seated meditation, are done for the specific purpose of building capacity for mindfulness. This overview also focuses in on the latest research on mindful awareness, including its effects on physiology, well-being, mental health problems, and various other health conditions.

Key Points

  • Mindful awareness involves focusing on the present moment, noticing what is happening without judgment.
  • It takes practice to cultivate mindful awareness.
  • Cultivating awareness helps people have a better sense of what really matters, of their sense of Meaning, Aspiration, Purpose (MAP).  It allows them to tune in to how their body is doing. It allows for more insights when it comes to creating a Personal Health Plan (PHP).  It changes our brains.
  • Mindful awareness can be cultivated in many ways. Meditation can have many goals, and for some types of meditation, mindfulness is a priority.  Ultimately, the goal is to have mindful awareness be a state of mind that is present throughout our daily lives.
  • While mindful awareness should be viewed more as a way of life than a therapeutic tool, it has been shown to have many different benefits.  For example, mindful awareness improves immune function, helps people with pain, reduces stress, decreases clinician burnout, and enhances a sense of well-being. It reduces depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms.
  • There are many ways to bring mindful awareness more fully into your work as a clinician

Please see the downloads section for more detailed clinician and patient information.

Disclaimer: This information is for general education. Please work with your health care practitioner to use it in the best way possible to promote your health.