Why Nurture A Mindful Mind

4 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD LEARN AND PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
 

Most of us have already heard and read a lot about ‘mindfulness’ - it has become such a buzzword, hasn’t it? So, what difference would my 4 reasons make to your understanding about mindfulness? I have to first tell you a story and I hope that will get you to read further. This is an old Mulla Nasruddin parable which tells us something about our obsession with reasoning and thinking. Once Mulla was sitting on the market street with his favorite pet animal. A young girl passed a comment “Mulla what a funny cow you have, why don’t your cow have any horns”. Mulla explained, “There are many reasons why a cow does not have any horns. For some horns do not grow until they are old enough, for some they are taken off by their owners for safety reasons and in few breeds horns do not grow at all. But this particular cow does not have horns because it is a donkey”. We have so many preconceived ideas about what mindfulness is and how mindfulness may change our lives. But, perhaps those very preconceived ideas are our blocks to understanding and practicing ‘mindfulness’. After more than 20 years of learning and practicing mindfulness and meditation, I can assure you that it is a very simple practice, the meaning and purpose of which is often lost in theorizing and philosophizing. I hope the 4 reasons that I have noted below can inspire you to start mindfulness practice.

 

{C}1.      Mindfulness provides us an experiential reference state for “wellbeing”.

 

Our mind can be compared to the flow of a river; sometimes the river flows fast and furious and sometime she can be very calm, clear and occasionally so still that a drop of leaf can send ripples around. When the river is still, you can see clearly what is deep within and so is our mind. When the mind is still and quiet we can see what’s there and get answers for most of our troubling questions. Practicing mindfulness helps us calm our mind and most importantly serves as a reference point for what is ‘calmness’ and ‘tranquility’.  When we are lost in our day-to-day routines and hassles, it’s easy to mix-up true happiness and wellbeing with pleasures or quick-fix solutions to our problems. The experience of tranquility during mindfulness practices will serve as a reference point and can pull you away from getting lost - for example, in a heated argument or a negative experience that you may have to face. You will ask yourself how far away am I now from my mindful-mind. This awareness itself can stop you from sudden impulsive actions and open ways for thoughtful and mindful decisions and actions.

 

{C}2.      Mindfulness is a very simple technique for wellbeing.

The beauty and value of mindfulness is in its simplicity – it does not involve techniques, procedures or skills that are demanding and complex. All it needs is a person wanting to be mindful. It takes just 15 minutes of your daily life to start with. Although it has the best results when practiced early in the morning, it can be practiced anytime. Driving, waiting or even when you are quietly reflecting.

 

{C}3.      {C}Evidence based benefits of mindfulness practice.

 

Based on the mounting research evidence, mindfulness practice is now widely established as a potential tool that can make significant positive changes to our psychological wellbeing.  In the past, meditation and mindfulness were not well researched and the statements on the accruing benefits were not based on empirical evidences; when people gave testimonies based on personal experiences they were not given due attention. Now, we have come so far that we have clear neurological evidences on the changes that happen in our brain when we regularly practice mindfulness. Various neurological mechanisms and processes underlie the effects of mindfulness and these benefits can be easily grouped together under two broad categories:

a. Improves attention: Mindfulness practice helps one sustain attention on the chosen stimuli and whenever distracted can willfully return attention to the stimuli. Imagine how the practice can help you if you can sustain your attention for example when talking to your customer, listening to a partner’s concerns or say when reading or listening to an important lecture.

b. Emotional regulation: Mindfulness practice helps one develop the capacity to become aware of emotions and then to control them as appropriate. What if we can keep our cool even in the most irksome situation or be able to keep in check our emotions that go unleashed when caught up in an unexpected situation. It is perhaps not a new piece of information, but many sports coaches now include mindfulness in their training practices.

 

{C}4.      Mindfulness practice is a technique to be tuned to your ‘self’.

There are various sophisticated instruments to examine your physical body but there aren’t any to examine our ‘experiences’ and our ‘self’. Who am I ? , Where am I going? or what’s the meaning of life are some of the deep and profound question that we conveniently put away but often confront us, quite unexpectedly, along life’s journey. Its safer to be prepared to face these questions and it is helpful when we directly deal with these questions. The outcome of exploring and confronting these questions are often times positive life changes, personal growth, creativity and transformative experiences. Mindfulness practice helps keep our mind ‘quiet’ enough to explore these questions without getting our ‘self’ mixed-up with external influences such as others’ opinions, judgments and expectations. It is often like the futile search for your lost key under the street lamp just because that’s the only place where you have ‘light’ to search. Another Mullah parable, but it tells us how we often limit our search for ‘self’ where it is more ‘convenient’ and ‘easy’

 

Let me end with a Rumi poem on mindfulness –

 

THE GUEST HOUSE

 

This being human is a guest-house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,

Who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture.

Still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

 

- Jalaluddin Rumi