Being fully aware of what is happening in the present moment is not easy. We live in this hyper-ventilated society that schedules its happiness for the weekend or the holidays, in this society where we live surrounded by stimulation, notifications and to-do lists. Being able to integrate the principles of mindfulness into our lives could undoubtedly allow us to experience very positive, almost surprising changes …
Take the following example: Alberto is a sales manager for a famous company. After almost 20 years of hard work and efficient work, he had to request time off due to a back injury. Surgery was required, and he was in rehabilitation for four long months. However, he continues to experience severe pain, and even daily swimming does not help him get better. He does not feel valid or sure of himself.
A co-worker recommended that she attend mindfulness sessions. Hearing this word, Alberto could not help laughing, because he has always seen this kind of practice as something of little use, a discipline little or not at all scientific and which reflects a passing fashion to which people are drawn. people who don’t know how to fix their boredom.
Even more, he does not see himself sitting in the lotus position meditating with his feet and hands joined. Despite all these sour comments, his friend insists: “You have nothing to lose by trying a week”.
Finally, after this first 7-day experience, Alberto has been practicing mindfulness for two years now. At 49, he learned to lead his life more calmly, he reduced stress, muscle strain and most importantly, his back pain is getting better and he was able to return to work. Since practicing mindfulness, he sees life differently. He feels, in a way, to have activated the “reset” button of his existence.
In the end, Alberto’s case is just one example, one among many. Most people come to mindfulness by chance, out of curiosity, out of need, or on the recommendation of friends or acquaintances. Nobody ever really knows what will happen when they start this practice, and they have no idea if it will be useful to them, or even of the changes that the practice of this type of meditation could generate in them. focused on mindfulness.
To learn more about this subject, we invite you to (re) see with us what is called mindfulness.
Mindfulness was not invented, in fact it developed from the ancient traditional practices of Zen and Vipassana meditation. Indeed, originally, this set of techniques and exercises was not intended to make people feel better, but rather to promote personal liberation. So there was a certain spiritual dimension there.
In the 1970s, Jon Kabat-Zinn, nuclear biologist, professor emeritus of medicine and founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts, began to promote mindfulness, or mindfulness. He himself practiced Zen meditation when he was 20 years old, and since then he has not stopped studying it and scientifically demonstrating the benefits it had for our health to practice this exercise.
Since then, thousands of people around the world have successfully completed its Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program to combat chronic pain, reduce anxiety and stress, and alleviate sleep problems and depression. Thus, and since Professor Kabat-Zin published in 1980 his first scientific article on this discipline, each year between 200 and 800 articles have been published which maintain that the benefits of mindfulness are real.
Today, both Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) are the most scientifically based mindfulness-based interventions.
As Daniel Goleman said in his time, attention is a muscle that we must work daily to be more receptive to what surrounds us as well as to what happens in our interior.
If this practice of Buddhist origin, more than 2,500 years old, has arrived in the West, it is no coincidence; indeed, it is because scientists such as Dr. Kabat-Zinn – among others – know and understand that our demanding society forces us to live at a frantic pace and paralyzes us with headaches, l anxiety, the different tasks to be performed and the “today I can’t do it, I don’t have enough time” …
We are those people who eat at full speed between 12:30 p.m. and 1:00 p.m., who go to bed after midnight and never without first taking a last look at our cell phone, only to sleep for a few hours. The early morning welcomes us again in a hurry, with a quick breakfast and a bus to take to work while in our minds still echoing the phrases of always “I am missing something”, “I feel empty. ” Or, even worse, “ that doesn’t make sense ” .
Scientific studies are here to remind us of something important: Buddhists have been using mindfulness for over 2000 years to develop it with a strong muscle which until then has not only allowed them to reduce the weight. stress or anxiety, but also to be more receptive to what surrounds them, more creative, closer. They show greater emotional resistance and moreover, they enjoy what they do, even if their tasks are routine.
We told you at the beginning of this article about Alberto and his ideas or stereotypes he had regarding mindfulness. Before forming a biased or negative opinion on a subject, it is always advisable to inform ourselves and to contrast the different information and sources in order to be able to have a more real perspective on things.
Sometimes areas or disciplines that we initially rejected can quickly become valuable tools that can help us improve our lives. Mindfulness can be one of these tools, hence the fact that it is necessary to delimit what “mindfulness” is and what is not.
- Mediation is not a religion: mindfulness is simply a method of mental training.
- It is not necessary to sit cross-legged on the ground or adopt the classic lotus position: while it is quite certain that the majority of articles and magazines “sell” us this idea, in reality, mindfulness. can be practiced almost anywhere, in almost any position or almost at any time, and even while playing sports, sitting or eating.
- Practicing mindfulness will not waste your time, it is not something that you have to practice from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.: once you have mastered the rules of meditation, you can practice it at any time. , without having to pay for sessions. Mindfulness, in reality, is a habit, a strategy that is dedicated to improving our quality of life.
- Meditation is not complicated: it is not about doing it right or wrong either, it is actually about training our mind on a daily basis to focus it on the present moment.
- Mindfulness is not a miracle or a recipe for happiness: the goal is not to achieve success in a month, nor to satisfy absolutely all of our desires. Mindfulness is a path, a strategy, a way to develop a deeper and more compassionate awareness of what surrounds us, to reflect on ourselves and on what surrounds us.
Mindfulness is all about practice. So there is one thing we need to keep in mind: Mindfulness cannot be achieved in just a week or two, because it takes practice and willpower to do so. Our deconcentration is continuous, the avalanche of stimuli and recurring thoughts does not cease easily, and therefore, it is necessary to be patient. However, once we have mastered the strategy, we will begin to notice in our daily life the effects that we present to you in the rest of this article.
One of the best benefits of mindfulness is being able to promote emotional self-regulation, self- awareness and self-control. Little by little, we will be masters of our internal universes, hence the importance of developing introspection, openness, reflection and self-acceptance.
Working memory allows us to temporarily store new information in our brain, in order to then retrieve and process it. This system is basic and essential in our daily lives, both to do our work better and to consider ourselves more integrated in our present, in our work, in our relationships and in our responsibilities.
The development of a depression almost always presents itself with cycles of negative and exhausting thoughts which throw the person in a dark abyss, in a repetitive and destructive dimension. However, if one begins to train in mindfulness, most of these mild depressive symptoms can lose their strength.
We then perceive other options, we regulate our emotions better, we release the knot of the past, we stop anticipating negative things in the future and we take root in this present full of so many opportunities.
Resilience, this wonderful ability to recover from adversity by coming out stronger, can be fostered through mindfulness. As multiple studies tell us, mindfulness promotes connectivity and activity in a region of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex. Thanks to it, emotional self-regulation is promoted, we learn from our past experiences in order to promote the lessons we have learned in the future, and we make more optimal decisions.
Do you know which other brain structure takes control whenever you experience fear or feel like running away? It is called “the amygdala”. This region of our brain is essential when it comes to responding to stress. In fact, it is known that over-stimulation of the amygdala often leads to depression and anxiety disorders.
However, the good news is that the constant practice of mindfulness allows us to reduce the size of the amygdala and decrease its activity. It is not something that we will be able to observe in a month or two, but it is the continuous and daily practice whereby our brain will experience powerful changes which will then allow it to better respond to stressful situations for improve our mental and physical well-being.
In conclusion, it is possible that most of you have never had any contact with mindfulness before, or even that you see this practice as something that does not suit you and that does not fit with your lifestyle.
However, it is necessary to remember once again that mindfulness is not practiced cross-legged, neither with the hands nor with the eyes, because it is not the body that we are going to use but the mind, the brain. What we want and what we seek to do is “educate our conscience”.
The impact that mindfulness can have in our life is important, and it is essential to be aware of the fact that this complementary approach to traditional medicine, supported by Jon Kabat-Zinn, can offer a much more complete help to the person. who would be interested.
Trying costs nothing, and can bring us so much …
– Jon Kabat-Zinn, The Practice of Mindfulness , 2007
– Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, Meditating in everyday life , 2014
– Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness , 2014
– Javier García Campayo, Mindfulness y ciencia (in French, “Mindfulness et science”), 2014