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THE OPEN MIND INSTITUTE © 2019 

ABN 30 504 693 782 

Brain activity when practicing mindfulness:

THE MINDFULNESS WORKSHOP

ABOUT MINDFULNESS

According to a recent Harvard University study, we spend approximately half our waking lives (47%) either thinking about things that happened in the past, or may/ may not happen in the future. The study suggests that it's this 'mind wandering' that is at the root cause of our unhappiness and mental health concerns.

Mindfulness is more than a mere catchword, it is an incredibly powerful psychological process that helps with anchoring our consciousness to the here and now in order to circumvent our mind from wandering.

Mindfulness was practiced by the ancient Vedics thousands of years ago and involves the non judgemental awareness of bringing our complete and undivided attention to our internal and external experiences as they arise in the present moment.

There is now a healthy body of research confirming 

that mindfulness works to assist with a number of

mental health concerns ranging from:

  • overthinking;

  • stress;

  • anxiety;

  • depression;

  • post traumatic stress disorder.

Functional Magnetic Resonance imaging shows that when we're practicing mindfulness only our prefrontal cortex (responsible for functions like the regulation of our social behaviour, decision making & concentration becomes enlivened and our amygdala gland (resp-onsible for 'fight or flight' response) actually shrinks!

Brain activity when practicing mindfulness:

HOW TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

There are many ways to practice Mindfulness, with one of the most powerful ways being Meditation. Many people have tried Meditation but have thrown it in the 'too hard basket' because they feel they can't keep their thoughts still. 

Mindfulness Meditation however, is a simple technique that allows you to focus on all of your experiences as they're occuring in  the present moment  (and includes things like your thoughts, observations and emotions). It involves simply paying attention to whatever you're experiencing, as you're experience it and when you observe you're reverting back to thinking about things in the past or future, simply bring your attention back to your breath and the present moment, in a non judgemental way that resets the process.

 

 

Mindfulness meditation practice always starts with focussing on your breath and can include a variety on breathing  techniques, mental imagery, muscle and body relaxation exercises, attention control on a particular object and mantra repetition.

The most recognised program for mindfulness meditation is the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which has been hugely successful in  treating stress, pain, insomnia and other mental health concerns. 

It's simple to start making mindfulness meditation a part of your daily routine and although a few minutes each day will make a world of difference, it's recommended you practice it for a minimum of 10-15 minutes in the morning and just before you go to bed. By doing so you're strengthening your prefrontal cortex and enhancing your overall mental wellbeing. Get started by following these simple 5 steps:

  1. Find a comfortable and quiet place, either sitting in a chair or on the ground with your spine in a straight position.

  2. Close your eyes and bring your complete awareness to your breath. Note the effect it has on your body as you inhale      through your nose, causing your diaphragm and stomach to expand and then contract as you exhale (preferably through    your nose but not essential).

  3. Maintain your attention on your breath for a few minutes before consciously extending your inhale breath for a few counts.    Then hold your breath for a few seconds, before exhaling for a slightly longer period. Hold your breath again and repeat  this process, getting yourself into a drawn-out and calm breathing pattern (You may want to try breathing in for 4 seconds,  holding for 2, breathing out for 4, holding for 2 and so on). 

  4. Now bring a portion of your attention to your minds-eye (the centre region between your eyes) and after a while simply        observe any sensations in your body or thoughts that arise in your head, observing them as they come and go. Don't            attempt to prevent or suppress them in any but rather witness how they make you feel and don't judge yourself in any way.

  5. Remember the whole point of mindfulness meditation is to be completely present in the now. So if you notice any thought that arises that is bringing up a past memory or is thinking about the future, identify it as a past/ future thought and reset the process by bringing your complete attention back to your breath. There's no need to feel upset or impatient when this occurs, it is part of the process and will get easier with more practice each day.

Mindfulness during  routine acts is another simple way you can bring the practice of mindfulness into your everyday life to reap the long list of benefits it offers.

 

The older we get the more desensitised we become to our environment. We repeat certain acts or behaviours so frequently, that they become habits or routine, which frees up space in the brain. However, because we don't have  to  consciously think about every detail of these acts, we go into 'autopilot' mode and it's during this period that our mind has the luxury to wander, frequently thinking about things in the past or future, things that we have little to no control over.

Practicing mindfulness during routine acts is simple. Choose a routine act that you perform in the company of yourself each day. It could be getting dressed  in the morning, brushing your teeth, having a cup of tea or going for a walk. Then set your intention that you will practice mindfulness from the beginning to the end of this act, which is as simple as the following steps:

  1. Set the intention that you will be entirely present in the now for the duration of your selected routine act.

  2. Start by bringing your attention to your breath, similar to the mindfulness meditation steps above.

  3. As you're noticing the effect of your breathing on your body, extend that attention to other parts of your body,    acknowledging that it comprises of all these different working cells, organs and parts that come together to provide you with this tremendous vessel that carries you throughout your life!

  4. Now slowly begin to extend that attention to the outside world by noticing your sensory contact to the world around you. So, if your selected act was brushing your teeth; you would notice the balls of your feet on the  bathroom floor, the weight and texture of your toothbrush and toothpaste as you pick them up and then the taste of the toothpaste in your mouth, before finally immersing your senses in the here and now, noticing the temperature in the room, the visuals and sounds occurring around you (there is a sensory banquet happening in every moment (!!) but we filter a lot of this information out, so harness this moment as a prime opportunity to appreciate the finer details unfolding in the present moment).

  5. When your mind begins to stray (because it will to start out with; it's become so conditioned to wandering away from you when you're performing these routine acts, that it may feel awkward or unnatural at first), simply reset the whole process by going back to your breath.

THE MINDFULNESS WORKSHOP

As you can see, mindfulness  can be an effortless and simple process, that when performed each day strengthens your prefrontal cortex, anchoring your consciousness to the here and now, which in turn provides a greater sense of clarity, focus, calmness and perspective.

To gain these and the other long list of benefits that mindfulness has to offer, it is imperative that these and other mindfulness based exercises become habits.

 

A teacher, program or workshop can help in this regard.

 

TOMI's Mindfulness Workshop uses experiential learning to provide a number of powerful  mindfulness based procedures and tools, in addition to an in depth understanding and application of the cognitive resources available to us that enable these mindfulness tools to become habits, so that we can sustain a positive and empowering mindset each day.

TOMI's Mindfulness Workshop is particularly beneficial for work teams that have performance benchmarks and have to deal with workplace challenges.

The experiential learning mindfulness based tools provided in the workshop enable attendees to successfully operate in that crucial gap between stimulus and response, which gives effect to:

  • Resilience cultivation;

  • Emotional and Social Intelligence;

  • Confidence and self-worth;

  • Teamwork and collaboration; and

  • Hyper focus and performance optimisation.

If you're curious about how mindfulness can help your workplace and would like some further information on our current Mindfulness Workshop discount package,

simply press the 'Request Proposal' button below, tell us a little about you, and your team (including the number of people in your team) and we'll promptly come back to you with a reasonable proposal, so that you can start using this incredible process today!