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Mindfulness is very popular at the moment as a way of reducing stress. Mindfulness originated as part of Buddhist practice, and was popularized Jon Kabat-Zinn with his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. It can be thought of as a mental state that can be achieved by focusing a person’s awareness on the present moment, while at the same time they calmly notice and accept their feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
It’s not easy to do because people tend to start thinking about things, rather than focusing their awareness on, for example, just their breathing. The three key concepts of mindfulness are awareness, non-judgement, and living in the present. That means stopping the mind reflecting on the past or projecting (imagining) the future. With mindfulness, a person cultivates a positive and grateful attitude, and can let go the need to be right.
Mindfulness is meant to help an individual by training their brain (neuroplasticity), improving relationships, boosting creativity, reducing depression, reducing chronic pain, giving deeper meaning to life, reducing stress and anxiety, controlling addiction, regulating eating habits, and increasing happiness.
The thing to realize about mindfulness is that is that it isn’t a technique because, fundamentally, mindfulness isn’t goal-oriented! Mindfulness includes a number of techniques that can be used, but, if a person practices mindfulness to achieve a goal, the mindfulness itself has less potency. It’s a difficult idea, certainly. But if you use mindfulness to achieve a result, you are introducing a bias (think of it like a scientist trying to see what the result of an experiment will be) and that means you are not trying mindfulness wholeheartedly. For example, relaxation is very often a side effect of a meditation, but it shouldn’t be the goal of meditation.
When you approach mindfulness, it’s important to remove any ‘musts’, ‘shoulds’, and ‘oughts’ from your thinking because these are setting out rigid rules and mindfulness doesn’t work like that. Mindfulness is simple, but not easy. It’s more to do with the natural flow of things, taking you where it wants to go, rather than you setting out with a goal in mind.
The word ‘mindfulness’ could also be translated as ‘heartfulness’. What that means is that there’s more to mindfulness than just focus of attention, there’s a strong emphasis on giving attention to anything that can be perceived with a sense of warmth, kindness, and friendliness, and avoiding self-criticism and blame.
Without mindfulness, the ‘ego’ takes an event and tends to develop a story or a drama. The seed of an idea develops and expands until it’s larger than it really is. People feel the need to be right and this can lead to major problems. On the other hand, mindfulness brings a realistic acceptance into the picture, working with the idea that we cannot always be right and letting go of the need to be in control, develop drama, or be liked by others. Observing these tendencies of the mind and acknowledging them can be very centring and calming for a person when dealing with difficult situations.
Trevor Eddolls has a Diploma in Mindfulness, and can use mindfulness techniques to help you to take control of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.
You read about mindfulness and business in Trevor's blog here.