Mindfulness is a practice of increasing your awareness of the present, of living in the “here and now”. It can help you become more grounded and focused. It can enable you to appreciate and enjoy life, and find peace, serenity, and calm. Mindfulness takes you out of your head and into the present-tense of being here.
There are so many reasons to start to build more mindfulness into your day. Here are 3 great ways mindfulness can help you both personally and professionally:
1. Mindfulness Can Change Your Brain
The human brain is not set in stone, but rather a changeable organ that can adjust and transform itself even into old age. This is called “neuroplasticity” – the ability of the brain to change throughout an individual’s life. The implication of this is that your brain is not hard-wired to be “stuck” in mental or emotional patterns that may be undesirable, such as negative thinking, anger, fear, worry, or sadness. Even though these uncomfortable patterns may seem impossible to change, our brains are able to re-wire brain pathways and replace them with healthier patterns.
Studies have shown that mindfulness-based meditation can cause increased activity and grey matter in parts of your brain called the pre-frontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex and hippocampus, which are responsible for decision-making, problem solving, regulating emotions, abstract planning, emotional stability, emotional reactivity, attention, cognitive flexibility, learning, and memory. It has also been shown to reduce the activity in the amygdala, which is overactive when we are under chronic stress and controls our levels of anxiety.
These incredible brain changes were not only found to occur during active meditation, but were sustained outside of times of mindful meditation. What this tells us is that these brain changes are long-term.
Just like practicing the piano over and over strengthens the brain pathways involved in playing the piano, making it easier and easier to play, mindfulness over time can strengthen pathways in our brain to react more mindfully – that is, less reactive, less judgmental, more accepting, and more aware.
2. Mindfulness Can Change Your Automatic Responses
Practicing mindfulness can help you deal with emotions in healthy ways by helping you develop a deeper understanding of your emotions and to help you tolerate “uncomfortable” emotions. Mindfulness can change your usual automatic responses so that you take a pause, and reflect before choosing your actions. Thus, you will find benefit with negative thinking, anger, uncontrolled emotions, racing thoughts, and self-sabotaging actions. Mindfulness can also help us to build compassion for others and for ourselves.
Mindfulness can be incorporated throughout your day and can allow you to become more self-aware which can lead to better decisions around your stressors.
3. Mindfulness Can Be Done Any Where, Any Time
If you want to increase your mindfulness, there are few excuses to impede your progress.
Mindfulness is a state of mind. You do not need to go to a class, or practice in a group, or pay a fee to practice mindfulness. You do not need a membership, a special room, equipment or a uniform. You do not need to invest a large amount of time.
Mindfulness can be practiced in any location, at any time, for any length of time.
This also holds true for mindfulness-based meditation. You can learn the basics of self-directed mindfulness-based meditation in just a few hours (there are a number of meditation centres that offer introductory classes), after which, you can practice at home, at the office, on your commute, or at your child’s soccer game, at your convenience. You can practice for 5 minutes a day, 20 minutes a day, or more.
The benefits of mindfulness are vast, and a mindfulness practice can be incorporated into any schedule.
So what are your excuses for not starting today?
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Article Written By: Jaty Tam ND. Dr. Jaty is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto and the Medical Director and Co-Founder of Well Street Health. Driven by her passion for health education, and her desire to bring wellness principles to the corporate world (in which she spent many years before becoming a Naturopathic Doctor), Dr. Jaty, continues to inspire audiences and build innovative corporate wellness programs that cultivate winning wellness cultures.
Looking for ways to spark up your corporate wellness culture? Check out Dr. Jaty’s Keynote Speaking on trending health topics.