“Mindfulness is for hippies, people who make their own clothes and eat vegan food. I can’t stop my mind from thinking and even if I did sure what benefit would it have been to me anyway I don’t need to zone out.” This was my belief about mindfulness for a long time … until I looked into it a little more.
As a scientist I’m naturally a little sceptical. I like the scientific proof and the evidence, it helps to give credibility and it gives my left brain permission to try something without thinking that it’s too whacky! I found that over 3,000 scientific experiments have been performed on mindfulness (it is the most scientifically tested form of meditation being practiced in the world at the moment) and the body of evidence in its favour is compelling. It’s something the Buddhists have known for thousands of years and now it’s getting popular in the West.
Mindfulness is a way of life for the Buddhists. They live every moment in the moment, as they go about their chores they are fully present to the task at hand. At each and every moment their attention is in the here and now. They are highly effective people, yet they never burn out.
Us westerners live a very different life. We live in a fast paced, always on, frantic world. For many of us there is no ‘off switch’, we don’t rest or replenish our bodies, we rarely stop (unless we get sick and even then we are irritated) and success is measured by how busy you are. The busier you are, the more you tick off your list equals the more successful you are. This seems to be the message out there at the moment in society.
However, we are now beginning to stop and consider the consequences of living a life like this.
People are burning out on a regular basis. Stress is a common problem and we are becoming more ineffective.
Of course this not only applies to life in work but also outside of work. We are underachieving in many aspects of our lives. How do we change this? The answer is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a training programme. Much like you swim, cycle and run to train your body, mindfulness will train your mind for optimal performance and as with everything the more effort you put into it, the more you will get out of it.
There are many misconceptions of mindfulness out there, much like the ones that I had myself on first hearing about it 15 years ago. My intention is to give you a clear picture of what it’s all about over the course of the next couple of weeks. Suffice it to say at this stage: it’s for everyone, there is no one who won’t be able to do it and it’s of enormous benefit to everyone.