What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose to moment-to-moment awareness in a non-judgmental way, as defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn (2013). Mindfulness is a way of being – a personal and regular practice of being in the awareness of the present moment to enhance our well-being. It is a gentle practice that invites curiosity and self-compassion towards attending to our own body and observing the nature of the mind, which is usually responsible for much of our emotional pain and suffering. This allows us the power of choice, rather than being on auto-pilot and making the same choices while having different intentions.
Mindfulness also trains the mind to work with distractions and focus better, and allows us to gain clarity of the cause of our problems. It helps us develop greater acceptance towards challenges, change our relationship to stress, and increase positive emotions.
More and more research are being done on mindfulness, with some suggesting that mindfulness, when practiced regularly, changes the brain over time by increasing the density of gray matter in brain areas associated with memory and learning, emotional regulation and empathy.
None of use ever heard of the word COVID in 2019, even until last few weeks but now it has been hanging in our psyche. I do not need to talk about the impact it has had on us – we are all living with that fear and uncertainty not just here in our city, province or country but all over the world.
Our survival system – amygdala – can get hyper-vigilant and super-alert and remain like that even when it might not be needed. This can compromise our thinking brain and wisdom, putting us at risk of PTSD post-COVID.
These are the times when we need our calm. I am reminded of an analogy by a Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh from Being Peace, talks to peace workers and meditation students:
I like to use the example of a small boat crossing the Gulf of Siam. In Vietnam, there are many people, called boat people, who leave the country in small boats. Often the boats are caught in rough seas or storms, the people may panic, and boats can sink. But if even one person aboard can remain calm, lucid, knowing what to do and what not to do, he or she can help the boat survive. His or her expression–face, voice–communicates clarity and calmness, and people have trust in that person. They will listen to what he or she says.
One such person can save the lives of many. Our family and society need us to be this calm person so we can be present for our children, partners, parents, friends, colleagues and our community.
Please join me creating a calm environment inside and around us for 20 minutes on these days for this week:
Let’s set our intention to practice Calm Minds
Using scientifically-validated techniques, unlock your innate ability to act with balance and self-belief, so that you can transform yourself.
Setting an intention is a powerful act of invoking your inner powers.
Set an intention to meditate for some time. Start really small - with one minute, 30 seconds. OK even one breath.
This activates parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible to recognize it as a signal to calm down your nervous system and recover from stress/ anxiety/ alertness.
Thus making available our thinking brain and opens up a wider range of choices.
You might find it useful to learn about parts of brain in hand model by Dr. Dan Siegel
Initial focus is on developing and strengthening our anchors in:
• 5 senses
Through different forms of practice including:
• Sitting meditation
• Walking meditation
• Movement meditation
With an attitude of:
The less expectations you have, more benefits you are going to get.
Each practice may bring different levels of benefit, some may not bring any benefit immediately but this practice almost always protects you from spiralling further down the autopilot path.
Research reports these benefits:
• Feeling relaxed
• Reduces symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, symptoms of aging
• Improved Sleep
• Helps managing pain
• Less reactivity
Begin a Journey To Reclaim Your Life
Follow Your Heart"Mindfulness is the aware balance acceptance of the present experience. It isn't more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it." -Sylvia Boorstein