Article reposted from Get Zest
Why Try Mindfulness?
Most people would begin their discussion with what Mindfulness is and what it means as a skill and a practice. On this site, we choose to start with WHY Mindfulness matters and how it can change our lives.
There is a pretty good reason why you’ve been drawn to try Mindfulness in your life. Out of the many reasons why, here are a few which matter most and might resonate with you:
- Remember how we can all do with a dose of Mindfulness? After all, Mindfulness can be very healing. It is a wonderful antidote for stress reduction. It contributes to decreasing the risk factors associated with stress-related illnesses and disease.
- There’s more to life than a fast-paced, hyper-connected existence. Already, our high-pressured, over-scheduled lives are taking over. They are significantly contributing to a rapid increase in stress-related illnesses including burnout, anxiety, depression, heart disease, and cancer.
- Do you long for a positive change? Through Mindfulness, you will experience a significant improvement in important areas of your life like work, home, family, and relationships.
- If you’re ready for a ”happier, healthier you”, then you can look forward to a wide spectrum of positive outcomes. These results include: Improved performance at work, enhanced personal relationships, better productivity at home, heightened clarity and creativity, and overall, a greater sense of well-being.
- Mindfulness helps improve your relationship with life itself. It heightens your level of empathy, such that you’re able to ‘respond’ to situations, rather than ‘react’ to them. It cultivates emotional resilience, the kind that will get you through anything at all. Thus, life itself can be experienced and enjoyed with more ease and equilibrium.
What is Mindfulness?
There’s a lot of talk going on about Mindfulness, and that can only be a good thing. It’s something which more of us are into for our own specific reasons.
In order to fully understand what that ”something” is and what you’re getting “into”, here’s our definition of Mindfulness for you. After all, if we define ourselves as people who long to be mindfully aware, then we ought to begin by defining what Mindfulness means.
What Mindfulness Is
Keeping it simple, Mindfulness is a STATE OF MIND. It’s a state of being in the present, of being fully present in the here and now. Thus, you pay close attention to the moment.
Mindfulness is also a STATE OF AWARENESS. With all your senses fully engaged, you become more aware of yourself. You are more attentive to everything going on around you.
For those of us who teach and coach, we also define Mindfulness as a PRACTICE. When you practice it regularly, it becomes a discipline. Practice it daily and it becomes a behavior and a habit. And when you pause to savor and enjoy it, it becomes much more fun!
A Life without Mindfulness
Does a life without Mindfulness have any meaning and fun? In the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, it’s so easy to get distracted. We get caught up in mundane, mindless tasks which make us feel tired and bored. We fall into a routine. We constantly juggle chores and responsibilities. We rush back and forth, never quite getting there.
Unaware and inattentive, it’s so easy to get lost. We lose ourselves in the confines of our work and in our complex relationships. We lose the moment and it slips us by…
Unfortunately, we also neglect to listen to our bodies. Our lives become toxic and our ways frantic. We forget to rest and relax, and in effect, we lose our joy.
So, a life without Mindfulness – is it really LIVING?
When the Mind Gets Overwhelmed
Left and right, there are so many ways by which the mind can get overwhelmed. It results from being too busy, dealing with a stressful event, or facing an illness or a failed relationship.
When this happens, it becomes a bit like a STORM! Dark, chaotic, and unpredictable, the storm which rages in and around you may be difficult to navigate.
Eventually, just like any storm which passes, the mind too can settle, calm, and repair itself. And with every storm you weather in life, it reveals more clarity. Seen from a new perspective, it eases up.
How the Brain Adapts
When we’re overcome by too much stress, our inner circuit goes haywire. Especially when we’re not getting enough nourishment or sleep, it feels like getting beaten down by a storm over which we seemingly have no control.
Neuroscience says otherwise. We do have control over how stress affects us. We have an intelligent brain that’s designed to change and adapt. Through a trait of the brain called NEUROPLASTICITY, new skills and competencies can be learned. Mindfulness can be developed.
On a scientific level, practicing Mindfulness has been shown to induce change and improve the efficiency of the PREFRONTAL CORTEX. This is the part of the brain responsible for planning, decision making, regulating emotion, and paying attention.
How Mindfulness Works
Mindfulness isn’t vague; it’s clear and specific. Like any other technique or exercise, however, it requires TRAINING and PRACTICE.
For instance, the practice of specific ATTENTION REGULATION exercises can sharpen the mind and improve its ability to concentrate. As we focus, we settle into the present moment.
By focusing our attention on the present moment, we can reconnect with our innate being. We become reconnected with our senses (such as smell, touch, sound, taste, and sight) and our body sensations, all of which are often “hijacked” when we live with chronic stress or busyness.
Likewise, we also restore ease and balance through specific STRESS REDUCTION exercises. Allowing you to de-stress, Mindfulness gives you the space to rest your mind so it can recalibrate or reboot. Upon recovering, it allows you to move forward to approach life with a GROWTH MINDSET and a greater sense of EQUILIBRIUM.
What a Growth Mindset Means
About 3 decades ago, Dr. Carol Dweck along with her colleagues came up with the term “GROWTH MINDSET”. It started from a study on how students react to achievement and failure.
As scientific research made headway, neuroscientists discovered that the mindset isn’t fixed. Rather, because the brain is malleable and it grows, the mindset also develops.
What’s more, when a person’s mindset grows, motivation increases. Naturally, it follows that performance improves and achievement goes higher.
So, how does Growth Mindset apply to everyday life? Well, here’s what happens when we allow ourselves to develop a Growth Mindset through practicing Mindfulness.
On one hand, we become goal-oriented and highly-motivated. We tend to perform better and achieve more. On the other hand, we also tend to respond better to failure. We become more open to the idea of learning from our mistakes, while remaining grateful for the experience of life.
How Mindfulness Helps
Of all the many benefits which Mindfulness can do for you (and there are a lot), there’s one which you’ll have deep satisfaction in. It’s the irreplaceable experience of calmly settling and just BEING.
Well, how often in your life are you allowed to JUST BE? This is the amazing aspect of Mindfulness which you are about to explore.
Just imagine. Instead of always dwelling in the past or worrying about the future, you choose to settle into the present moment. You are so “into” the here and now that you don’t need to fantasise or seek something material to bring you happiness.
For a change, you can even step away from the world and take a private mindful walk. As you quietly meditate, you can also step back and see things from a new perspective. Now, wouldn’t you just love that?
Mindfulness as Fitness Training
Now that we’ve covered what Mindfulness is and why it can be good for you, let’s end this page on a high note: Think of practicing Mindfulness as FITNESS TRAINING for the MIND! It’s your ticket to discarding old ways and creating new lifestyle habits which are healthier for your body and mind.
Like any fitness training, it requires learning new skills. You’ll learn to develop those mind and body muscles and strengthen your back. Most of all, you’ve got to get to your core and improve your breathing.
Breathe easy, because training on Mindfulness can be done. You can do it! It’s for everyone who wants to grow and learn.
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