Before trying mindfulness, know what you're getting into.
There is a general huge misconception around mindfulness. Many people think that mindfulness is a spiritual thing. Many think that it’s a private thing that we do at home. And most people think that mindfulness is about slowing down. That’s wrong. Mindfulness in short terms is really about speeding up our mental processes whereby we can be more effective with whatever we’re doing that we have this attentional that allows us really to be on task with what we’re doing. So while mindfulness could have a personal benefit which it certainly has.
We do become happier. We do become kinder. But it also has a really strong business benefit in terms of our performance and productivity going up. Mindfulness, in short, is learning to manage our attention. And according to neuroscience that is actually very possible. The brain is consisting of a huge neural network that can be rewired by the way that we’re using it. So basically what researchers can see is that the more we pay attention – whatever we pay attention to but in this case in mindfulness the stronger our, let’s say attentional muscle becomes – it’s right here behind the forehead called the prefrontal cortex, the more we train, the better we become at it.
So that’s the short definition of mindfulness. The bit longer definition of mindfulness is to develop the ability to stay focused with what we want to be focused on while still being aware of our body experience, being aware of what’s going on around us. So with more mindfulness, we are not only becoming more effective in doing the task at hand but we’re also becoming more effective in noticing what’s going on around us and which things we should be allowing ourselves to be distracted by. And which distractions to leave out of our mind. So I think one of the big reasons why some people leave their mindfulness practice is because they have the wrong expectations for the practice.
When we sit down and close our eyes in the very beginning lots of thoughts will arise and that’s natural. And when you sit down and do mindfulness practice after practice for maybe ten weeks or ten months or ten years, still many thoughts will arise. So the trick of mindfulness is not to get a total silent clear blissful mind. That doesn’t happen.
Mindfulness is a practice where we learn to notice our thoughts, let go of the thoughts and return to the object of choice which is in practice is the breath.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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