Sunday, November 18, 2012

What is Mindfulness?

What is mindfulness?   I have written before about the many beneficial effects of mindfulness and deep breathing techniques. "Every Breath You Take," May 2, 2012. These include lower blood pressure, better cognitive skills and many other health related benefits.  It is clearly a practice that everyone can and should do everyday if you value your health or want to become healthier. But what is it about mindfulness that makes it so beneficial and why has it become so popular?

While I don't claim to be an expert and certainly I am not a doctor or health professional, I think the answer lies in the fact that our nervous systems today are so overtaxed by all the outside forces that bombard us from every corner of our world. We are constantly exposed to numerous stimuli which is fueled by the belief that the more things we can do at the same time, the more productive we are. I think mindfulness offers a form of relief that eases both the mind and the body by reducing the number of stimuli. In a world of multitasking, mindfulness is the ultimate form of unitasking.

In other words, by concentrating on just one thing at a time, we find relief from all the other outside forces that seek to demand our attention. And all it takes is to concentrate our mind on what we are doing right now and not try to do too many things at the same time.  If you are watching a football game on the television, watch the game but don't read the newspaper at the same time. If you are walking down the street, notice how you are walking, pay attention to your stride, the movement of your arms and every aspect of your body. If engaged in conversation, just listen rather than thinking only about what you are going to say.

 If you try these simple measures, I believe you will enjoy the benefits of mindfulness everyday without even thinking about it (no pun intended).

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