What Is Mindfulness? Focused Attention In Our Hectic World

What is mindfulness  Focused attention in our hectic world

It is not an easy task to be mindful of the here and now. After all, we live in a society that plans its happiness for the weekend or vacation time. We’re surrounded by stimuli, notifications, and to-do lists. Fortunately, integrating mindfulness into your life can bring you many positive and quite amazing changes.

Case in point: Alberto and mindfulness

Alberto is a sales manager in a well-known company. After nearly twenty years of hard and efficient work , he has to ask for leave of absence due to a back injury. He undergoes an operation and goes into rehabilitation for four months. However, he still suffers from very severe pain. And although he swims every day, he doesn’t want to be better. He feels insecure.

“It is impossible to become someone else. Our only hope is to become a more perfect version of ourselves. “

Jon Kabat-Zinn

A colleague recommended that he take mindfulness courses. When he heard the word, Alberto couldn’t help but start laughing. He has always viewed this hocus-pocus as useless and unscientific. As a trend for those who don’t know what to do with their time. Also, he cannot imagine how to sit in the lotus position and meditate with palms together. But his friend insists, “You won’t lose anything if you try it for a week.”

Well, after his first week of mindfulness, Alberto practiced it for two more years. At the age of 49 he learned how to live his life more calmly. He is less stressed and less likely to suffer from muscle tension. But most of all, he feels less pain in his back and therefore goes back to work. During the time he has made mindfulness a part of his everyday life, his way of looking at life changes. He feels like he has pressed “restart”.

Alberto’s case is not an uncommon example. Most people come into contact with mindfulness by chance or out of curiosity. Possibly out of necessity or because friends or acquaintances recommended them to you. And many do not know what will happen, whether it will be useful to them. They do not know what changes will be made by this type of meditation.

Read on if you want to learn more about mindfulness.

Sunset in the mountains

Who “invented” mindfulness? Is there any scientific evidence?

Nobody invented mindfulness. It developed with the age-old traditional meditation practices Zen and Vipassana. It is worth highlighting that this combination of techniques and exercises was not originally intended to make a person feel better. Rather, it was trying to promote personal liberation, and thus there is a spiritual component to it.

“When you connect with something, that connection will instantly give meaning to your life.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

And then came the 1970s when Jon Kabat-Zinn began promoting mindfulness. He is a retired medical professor and founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic (in German: Clinic for Stress Reduction), which is part of the University of Massachusetts (Massachusetts, USA). He has been practicing Zen meditation since he was 20 years old. Since then, he has tirelessly researched and scientifically proven their health benefits.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Since then, thousands of people around the world have completed his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program. It has helped them manage chronic pain, reduce anxiety and stress, as well as relieve sleep problems and depression. Since Prof. Kabat-Zinn published his first scientific article on this topic in 1980, hundreds of other articles have been published that demonstrate the benefits of mindfulness.

Currently, mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy are the two mindfulness-based therapies for whose effects most scientific evidence exists.

Attention is a muscle that we need to strengthen

This Buddhist-rooted custom, which is over 2,500 years old, did not come to the West by chance. He came because scientists like Dr. Kabat-Zinn understand that our society is demanding and stressful. It pushes us to go faster and torments us with headaches, anxiety and endless tasks.

We rarely take half an hour a day to have lunch. And we go to bed after midnight after taking one last look at our cell phone. In the end, we only sleep a few hours. Morning comes in a hurry, brings a rushed breakfast and we almost miss our bus to work. Meanwhile, thoughts like “I’m missing something,” “I feel empty,”  or, worse, ” Everything is pointless” occur to us .

Blue eye

The antidote? Training. Daniel Goleman once said that attention is a muscle. One that we have to train every day so that we become more receptive to the things around and within us. Buddhists began exercising regularly over two thousand years ago, and to this day we know them as relaxed people who don’t have to suffer from our anxiety and stress. Mindfulness and full attention make you more open-minded, more creative and emotionally stronger. They have also always helped people enjoy what they are doing.

What is mindfulness and what is not

You probably have a more or less preconceived notion about mindfulness. Before relying on these, however, it is a good idea to do some research. Compare information from different sources so you can get a more realistic and broad perspective. Because sometimes the things we initially rejected eventually become valuable tools that we can use to improve our lives.

Mindfulness could be one of those tools. This is why it is important to know what mindfulness is and what is not.

  • Meditation, not religion. Mindfulness is simply a mental training technique.
  • You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor in the classic lotus position. Although most articles and magazines sell this idea, you can actually practice mindfulness anywhere, in any position, anytime. You can even do it while you exercise or eat.
  • Practicing mindfulness doesn’t take up all of your time. You don’t have to do it from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Once you are in control of the meditation patterns, you can access them at any time of the day. And that without having to spend money on courses. Mindfulness is practically a habit, a strategy that you can use to improve your life.
  • Mindful meditation is not complicated. Also, there isn’t one right way to do it. It’s really about training your mind every day so that you can focus on the present.
  • Mindfulness is no wonder, not the secret to happiness. It doesn’t make you rich overnight, nor does it fill you. Mindfulness is a path, a strategy. It’s a way to develop a deeper, more compassionate awareness of the things around us. In this way you can reflect on yourself and your environment.
Boat and seagulls

What mindfulness can do for you

Mindfulness is all about practicing. Still, there is one thing you should be clear about: you cannot develop mindfulness in a week or two. You will need practice and willpower. You will be distracted and it will certainly cost you an effort to fend off the onslaught of external stimuli and internal thoughts. That is why you need patience. But once you have found your strategy, you will see results.

“Don’t try to push your mind. Give them space, watch them and let them go. “

Jon Kabat-Zinn

You become aware of your emotions

Important effects of mindfulness are the improvements in emotional self-regulation, self-awareness and self-control. Little by little you will become the lord and master of your inner universe. And then you will be able to grow in self-awareness, open-mindedness, reflection and self-acceptance.

You improve your working memory

Working memory allows you to temporarily store new information in your brain so that you can quickly access and process it. It’s a fundamental system that we build on in our everyday lives, whether it’s about work or about integrating ourselves better into the present.

Mindfulness relieves symptoms of depression

Depression results in negative, exhausting thought cycles that lure a person into a dark trap. It can be very destructive. However, as you begin to practice mindfulness, the symptoms of depression will decrease in strength. You will be able to go other ways in which you can regulate your emotions better and free yourself from the chaos of the past. Ways in which you will stop expecting negatives in your future. And you will be rooted in the present, which is full of possibilities.

Slumped woman

You become more resilient

Resilience is a wonderful ability to face the future stronger after a setback, and you can become more resilient through mindfulness. Many different studies suggest that mindfulness improves circuitry and activity in a specific region in the brain. This region is called the anterior cingulate cortex. This will improve your emotional regulation and help you learn from your past. This will allow you to make better decisions in the future.

You will be less stressed

Do you know which brain structure takes control every time you are afraid or want to flee? It’s the amygdala. This area of ​​our brain determines how we react to stress. In addition, overstimulation of the amygdala also leads to depression or anxiety disorders.

But the good news is that constant practice of mindfulness will help you reduce the size of your amygdala. It can also reduce its activity. This is not something you will notice in just a month or two. But with continued daily practice, this process will take place. At some point your brain will begin to initiate changes. With these changes, it will be able to respond better to stressors. In addition, both your mental and physical health will improve.

Leaf on a stone

Maybe you haven’t given mindfulness a chance and see it as something that doesn’t suit you and your way of life . How can I sit down and meditate for an hour with all the things I have to do?   You might ask yourself. But you don’t necessarily have to practice mindfulness cross-legged, with your eyes closed, or your hands clasped. You should not use your body, but your mind, your brain. The goal is to “train your attention.”

Mindfulness can have such an impact on your life that Jon Kabat-Zinn himself fights for meditation to be accepted as an additional focus in traditional medicine. He says that she has the power to give you health. It doesn’t cost anything to try it out.

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