Mindfulness Is A Super Power
Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms.
The results showed that the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 (or around the time the mobile revolution began), to just eight seconds. Meanwhile, goldfish are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds! We have a distraction epidemic.
This situation has a significant impact on our ability to learn, perform at work and generally enjoy life. Mindfulness can help us focus, feel better about ourselves and others, improve memory and enable us to achieve our goals – and the best thing about it is that it’s free!.
Mindfulness, it’s been the buzzword in recent times, but it’s not new, and it’s not a fad. Cultivating mindfulness and incorporating it into your life will have a broad impact on your personal and professional life. Mindfulness, in its simplest definition, is a mental discipline that involves training our attention – it supports our mind to be more focused, clear and productive. It doesn’t cost you a thing, no memberships, no technology, no special equipment, no extra time. It’s a no brainer!
The cognitive skill of mindfulness can help us:
• Improve focus, attention and memory
• Increase self-awareness and emotional intelligence
• Reduce the impact and influence of stressful thoughts and feelings
• Facilitate better communication and relationships
• Improve personal and professional performance
• Contribute to our physical and mental wellbeing
• Provide us with the opportunity to respond rather than react to people and situations
Mindfulness is both a form of meditation (formal practice) and a way of living with awareness (informal practice). Mindfulness meditation can take place on a chair or cushion. The informal practice of mindfulness refers to being attentive and present to what we are doing in daily life. Punctuating our day with mindful commas (a few seconds or up to a minute) and full stops (several minutes) is a great way to integrate mindfulness into our lives and have a positive impact on our day to day experiences.
Here are some daily mindfulness tips that you can incorporate into the things you’re already doing:
• Bring your attention to your breathing by observing five mindful breaths. On average we take 21,600 breaths per day, when was the last time you paid attention to just five of them?
• Tune into the conversation you are having and listen with your full attention. What do you notice?
• Notice changes in your posture. Be aware of how your body and mind feel when you move from lying down to sitting, to standing, to walking.
• Drink and eat something mindfully. Take a moment to tune into all of your senses. Bring awareness to seeing your food, smelling your food, tasting your food, chewing your food, and swallowing your food.
Journaling is another effective way to bring you into a state of mindfulness. Past frustrations and future anxieties lose their edge in the present moment. It calls a wandering mind to attention from passivity to actively engaging with your thoughts. You become aware of the internal chatter and your emotional state.
Here are some surprising benefits that might convince and motivate you to start writing:
Increases emotional intelligence – Journaling is an outlet for processing emotions and increases self-awareness. Understanding ourselves allows for greater awareness of ourself and therefore, the ability to more effectively self regulate.
Boosts memory and comprehension – There’s a new relationship between the hand and brain, sparked by the composition of thoughts and ideas. Words are representations of ideas, and the formation of letters causes the mind to compose or re-compose ideas while journaling. This strengthens previously covered information and forces you to engage in the cognitive recall.
Facilitates insights and ‘aha’ moments – To write without thinking can be a powerful tool. “Stream of consciousness” writing brings out thoughts and ideas you never knew you had by facilitating greater exploration and expression. Your mind makes connections and gains insight where you might have been struggling before.
Builds self-confidence – Journaling about a positive experience allows your brain to relive it and reaffirm your abilities when self-doubt appears. The release of endorphins and dopamine will boost your self-esteem and mood and motivate you to engage in the same or similar activities in the future. These reflections can become a catalogue of personal achievements that you continue to go back.
Achieve goals – Journaling often includes your dreams and ambitions. Writing goals signals to your brain, “this is important.” Your reticular activating system (RAS) then flags relevant opportunities and tools to achieve that goal. More detailed purposes provide a psychological blueprint and increase the likelihood of achieving them.
Mindfulness can be your superpower by bringing about high awareness of self and others, enriching relationships, facilitating learning and insights, improving performance, and reducing stress. It’s the simple things done that can make the most significant difference.