February 28, 2020
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National Leaders in the Mental Health Aspects
of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

As you probably have seen, ‘mindfulness’ is the theme of our upcoming START National Training Institute. In the START network we teach/encourage our teams, families, people we serve to practice mindfulness through sharing strategies. Yet, if each of us were asked to define ‘mindfulness’, we would likely provide a variety of responses, many of them including phrases such as ‘being present’, ‘being aware’, ‘being grateful’. None of these are incorrect. But did you know there is an operational, scientific definition of ‘mindfulness’ which was described in 2004?
Mindfulness is the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.
 This definition reminds us that we can intentionally focus our attention and shift our attention in an effort to notice what others have perhaps missed. It also reminds us that in order for what we notice to have meaning, we have to be curious and open to what we might find. I find the above definition really resonates with our START practices. As we enter into systems, we must intentionally enter with neutrality and openness, accept that we all are doing the best we can with the information we have, and promote curiosity so we can learn and move forward with new perspectives. Bring this definition of mindfulness with you to the SNTI and we will all leave with new knowledge and insight!
Register for the 2020 START National Training Institute
Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S. L., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., ... Devins, G. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241.
Niemiec, R. M. (2014). Mindfulness and character strengths: A practical guide to flourishing. Boston, MA: Hogrefe.

Thanks for reading and Happy Friday,

The Center for START Services

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Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire