Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Why do people keep going on about this buzzword ‘Mindfulness’? What’s the big deal anyway and what’s this business about it equating to empowerment? These are all really great questions that I’m going to answer for you. Let’s start with the ‘Why’:
If we look at the world today, there is arguably a massive divide between ‘well being’ and ‘being well off’. Never before have we been bombarded by so many messages (now targeted in accordance with our on-line movements) telling us what we need to eat, wear, buy and think in order to be ‘happy’.
Never before have we had this amount of technology at our disposal whereby we can connect with strangers on the other side of the planet, yet have severed connection with our loved ones laying in the very same room. This ‘divide’ and ‘disconnect’ is leading many of us to feel inadequate, unhappy and is contributing to the adverse mental health epidemic.
A recent Harvard research paper found that people spend 47% of their waking lives thinking about something other than what they’re doing in the present moment. That is nearly half our waking lives are spent thinking about things that have either happened in the past or are about to occur in the future (matters we have little to no control over!). The paper further suggests that it is this “mind wandering” that is the root cause of unhappiness.
There’s a Hermetic phrase I frequently refer to that says: As above, so below, as within, so without. This implies that our inner world is a decisive factor in shaping our ‘reality’. So if this world, with all its division and disconnect, is a representation of our inner world, then our thoughts seriously need to be analysed! This brings us to the subject of Mindfulness:
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s complete and undivided attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment and sustaining that attention control for as long as possible.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS
The benefits of practicing mindfulness are vast and plentiful. From a mental health perspective, it is a natural and non-prescriptive measure to reduce, even eradicate, depression, anxiety and stress. It can also help with combating chronic pain and addictions.
By way of example, TOMI’s one-one-one coaching was recently provided to a lady (let’s call her Megan) who was seeking assistance to deal with her addiction to junk food. Mindfulness is one of the key measures introduced into our one-on-one sessions as it grants insight as to why we act in certain ways and provides a platform from which to make lasting changes.
At night when Megan would come home from work, she would consume a litre of diet Coke and a bag of potato chips. After she began to implement mindfulness, she found that she was either subconsciously thinking about events that happened at work that day or what tasks she had to complete the following day. It was during this ‘mind wondering’ that Megan was subconsciously feeding herself the junk food that was doing her body damage.
Megan advised that she also found her awareness and senses became heightened during the mindfulness practice, explaining that she was more conscious of being in the present moment and consuming the junk food. Practising mindfulness assisted Megan with eradicating her addiction to junk food and today she is addicted to going to the gym.
WHERE'S THE EVIDENCE
In light of recent scientific evidence, mindfulness is no longer a mere ‘buzzword’. As a result of functional magnetic resonance imaging, practicing mindfulness has now been proven to work.
By detecting changes associated with blood flow in the brain, it indicates time and time again, that when practicing mindfulness, the amygdala (part of the brain associated with ‘fight or flight’) shrinks and only the pre-frontal cortex is active (part of the brain associated with awareness, concentration/ focus & decision making).
These findings confirm that people who practice mindfulness significantly increase their neuro-plasticity, which enhances mental agility, well-being, confidence and performance. In light of this scientific evidence, you now have a range of leading institutions and successful people utilising mindfulness. The question is; if these successful bodies and people are using mindfulness to enhance their performance, why aren’t you?
HOW CAN I START PRACTICING MINDFULNESS?
1. Daily Meditation: More and more people are turning to meditation as a preferred way to practice mindfulness because of the extended sense of clarity and focus it provides. I’ve been meditating for ten years now and can honestly tell you that with out it, I don’t believe I’d be able to get through my day. It anchors my being to everything that is important in my life and has taught me patience, compassion and how to keep a birds-eye perspective on things.
If you haven’t meditated before or perhaps have tried and haven’t had much luck in keeping your mind/ thoughts still, you should know that there are a multitude of ways you can meditate and that it isn’t necessarily about keeping your thoughts still at all. Meditation is about being completely present in the moment.
When meditating you should be in a comfortable position, with your spine up straight. Then shift your focus to your breath, being completely aware of the air flow entering your body, causing your diaphragm and stomach to expand as you inhale, and leaving your body, causing them to contact when you exhale. Anchor your consciousness to the present moment by focussing on your minds eye (the area between your eyes) whilst simultaneously focussing on your breath, which should after a while get into a drawn out, calm and sustained rhythm.
For a more detailed guide you can visit: http://msia.org.au/how-to-meditate/ or google ‘guided meditation’. A minimum of 15 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night is the recommended time one should mediate. If you’re able to maintain this practice, after a few weeks you will feel a tremendous benefit to your physical, mental and spiritual well-being.