Did you ever go somewhere and after arriving there you looked around, and realised you have driven all the way to the place without really noticing it. Are you often thinking at work about what you told your partner yesterday, or what you will do in the evening / on the weekend / on holiday? Take a pause and think about what you are reading now and how you feel about it – right now you are experiencing what it’s like to be mindful!
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
The practice of mindfulness is used as one of the tools of positive psychology – American psychologists have been working on this approach for more than 40 years. It is becoming more popular now – hand in hand with the ubiquitous emphasis on a healthy lifestyle. Mindfulness is not another BIO/ECO labeled product for sale, but a simple tool that everyone can use freely – which is one of the reasons why this method is used more widely, outside classic psychotherapy, for example in companies and among people with demanding professions.
In short, mindfulness means that our mind is fully attending to what is happening HERE and NOW. It means that you focus on what you are doing, you feel the environment around you. Although we don’t often realise it, our brains are automatically programmed to handle various types of everyday situations. Waking up to an alarm clock, brushing teeth, lifting things when something falls, twitching when something hurts or burns us, closing the fridge… we easily get into an AUTOPILOT mode – our brains are constantly working. And since it is the most complex body organ of all, it always finds “something to do”. Our minds also prefer to deal either with stories and images from the past, or plans for the future.
HOW CAN WE PRACTICE MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is an ability to be fully present, be aware of where we are and what we are doing. In this sense, mindfulness is a type of meditation. You can practice it when sitting, walking or lying down. Focus on your body, how you perceive it, listen to surrounding sounds, observe objects around you, look closely at the food you consume… Concentrate, BREATHE deeply and slowly, preferably use abdominal breathing techniques. Now it is important to mention that mindfulness does not mean suppressing your thoughts. It is an observation without evaluation, repulsion or remorse. It’s like walking a dog – a puppy. Even if it is trained, it happens that you have to shorten the leash from time to time.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Scientists used to think that after 15 years of age our brains stop developing just like the rest of our bodies. However, research in recent years shows that science has been very wrong in this respect and that the brain is an organ that is capable to regenerate and create new cells and synapses. Therefore practising mindfulness is like training and going to the gym – only regular exercising can rebuild existing patterns and structures. Just a few minutes a day and:
- You start to notice small, but important things that can make you happy and stay positive.
- You will probably make better decisions – with the autopilot switched off and tuning “into the moment”, your intuition is active and works more effectively.
- You will act with greater foresight – a conscious approach will increase the time between the stimulus and your response to it. “Ah, this has upset me, but…”
- You will not retain your emotions associated with the past (remorse, anger) and the future (worries, anxiety, insecurity).
- Your body will not be in constant stress (flight or fight) which will help you to prevent all sorts of chronic medical problems.
It may seem unbelievable, but our body regenerates its nervous system and body immunity better during conscious meditation than during sleep. MRI scans have also confirmed changes in the brain structure, such as expansion of the area responsible for feeling joy.
So give MINDFULLNESS a try 😊. This trend is here to stay anyway – effectively working with our minds will be needed even more in current fast-paced world. Our whole body can benefit from it and that is what we all (including us in Royal Medical) wish in the end…