You're probably wondering what mindfulness and wellness, could possibly have to do with each other? And it is indeed a good question.
Somewhere in the early 70's, when the world was recovering from war and recession, there was some time to look around and be aware of the overall situation. Clinical psychologists noticed that people were far less attentive to their surroundings and almost oblivious to the things happening in their life with every passing second!
This may not seem like a problem when we talk on a second to second basis, but when we take into account an entire day or week or even months, it becomes a form of unconscious neglect. We start neglecting small things and soon we start neglecting important things. Mindfulness is a concept, appropriated from ancient Buddhist roots, and clinically innovated by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The idea of mindfulness involves being aware moment-to-moment, of one's subjective conscious experience from a first-person perspective. It involves having absolute focus on our actions and as someone wisely said, Actions have consequences!
With respect to wellness, mindfulness plays a very important role, considering that wellness depends on the fundamental principle, that one knows he is unwell.
So, with that simple idea in mind, let's begin.
• Mindfulness is not as much about paying attention on the good things, as it is about not paying attention to the bad things. If there are ideas or thoughts that make you feel down and negative, it is important to keep in mind that you aren't supposed to be focused on them.
• Mindfulness connects areas of the brain that deals with the cognitive functions and attention. The process involves paying attention to the details and not missing out on important things.
• There is growing evidence that mindfulness can alter the brain and the resulting triggers "the relaxation response" that can turn sets of genes on or off.
• Making mindfulness part of your life can be life changing and your health and general wellbeing will greatly benefit from it.
If we look at it from a logical point of view, it makes absolute sense that mindfulness and wellness make complete sense.
You fall sick and go to the doctor. You're diagnosed with flu. Easy, get your dose of antibiotics and drink plenty of water. You'll be spick and span before you know it!
But take a quick rewind, to the week right before you fell sick and went to the doctor.
Remember that discomfort in your throat? The one you cleared by drinking water?
And then there was the time you sneezed. Not once, a few times every hour. That was ignored since you blamed it on the pollution.
If you follow the chain, you'll find another hundred small symptoms that led to the eventual disease. And that is when you realise you've been neglecting the signals.
You failed your math test. You're absolutely sad and feel really bad about it. So you talk to your family and friends, spend a day or two crying it out. That is logical.
But then for some reason, you decide to keep talking about it. The most common among these habits, is the initial post mortem of the question paper! You'll do everything to spot that one error the teacher made.
If someone stops you, you justify it by saying, "I am learning from my mistakes!" Correction. That is not learning from your mistakes that is not being able to go past your mistakes.
Mindfulness, is about being aware of every single moment. Because each and every moment you are contributing to your wellness. Mindfulness focuses the human brain on what is being sensed every moment, instead of on its normal rumination on the past or on the future. Although science doesn't have all the answers yet about the relationship between mindfulness and wellness, it is thorough that the physical changes in the brain have a direct influence on improved health.
Impact of Mindfulness on Wellness
1. Avoid stress
When we are mindful of each and every moment, we are in control of our mind. This control allows us to avoid unnecessary stress and worry. We learn to take things as they come.
2. Better Productivity
Mindful people, on record show better productivity than people who keep focusing on their past or their future too much. Those who live in the present and enjoy it, win.
3. Better Health
Overall health gets the undivided attention it needs. As discussed in one of the examples, when we live life worrying about everything, we ignore or neglect the things here and now. Mindfulness ensures that we pay more attention to our health.
4. Increases Mental Acuity
Mindfulness is not simply about awareness, it also includes observation. So when you are mindful, you are also being acutely observant of all the things around you. This increases mental acuity.
5. Helps with Coping
When we are mindful, we cope better with things. We become aware of what affects us and in what way. This leads us to avoid negativity and heal faster.
Mindfulness has been used in psychotherapy as a tool to deal with mental stress, tensions, anxiety and a whole host of other problems.
The truth is, we are all running. Running towards something, running away from something! But we are running. This chase has led us to a stage where we don't take a moment to stop and think, "This moment is never going to come back!"
We prepare for a future that is not promised and we think of a past which we cannot change. Instead, why not simply choose to live the present and be mindful of every moment? Sounds like a much better deal to me.
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