Everyone talks about mindfulness, the concept of awareness or meditation for skeptics, which reduces stress levels and gives meaning to life. Along with the case study writing service, we’ve selected some fun stories about using this practice in real life. We tell you what it means to live consciously and why it is taught to Google employees and Navy stamps.
What is mindfulness?
It is basically a scientific approach to meditation and an effective practice for training mindfulness, mindfulness skills and stress management. Mindfulness is often known as fitness for the mind. British MPs are taking an eight-week course on mindfulness (last year the UK even hosted the first summit bringing together politicians who use the mindfulness approach in their work). In the United States, police officers, Navy SEALs, and FBI and CIA personnel practice mindfulness skills. Nike, Google, Facebook, Apple, Intel, and many other corporations practice meditation without leaving the workplace. Mindfulness is part of the education system of Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford universities.
How was mindfulness born?
There is a separate concept in Western psychology called mindfulness, which was proposed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a biologist and professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts in the 1980s. The concept implies that we have rudiments on the path to maximum awareness and need to develop them.
The scholar based his methodology on Buddhist meditation (and this provoked the skepticism of his colleagues). However, Jon Kabat-Zinn completely removed the religious context and introduced it into medical practice. What are the similarities between mindfulness and meditation? Both teach a complete shift of attention to the present moment without any assessment of self or reality. Both can be called mindfulness training and mindfulness training.
John Kabat-Zinn opened his own clinic where he worked with patients on the MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) program, an eight-week stress reduction course based on mindfulness practices. MBSR is currently considered the gold standard and is used in cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, and its effectiveness has been confirmed by scientific research. For example, in 2011, a neurophysiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School performed an experiment that showed that MBSR changes the structure of the brain. A group of participants who did the classic MBSR course (2.5 hours of group mindfulness practice once a week and 45-60 minutes a week at home) for eight weeks showed amazing MRI results. They increased the cortical thickness of the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory, and the areas of the brain that play an important role in managing emotions and self-identification processes. There was also a decrease in the volume of cells in the amygdala, which is responsible for anxiety and fear. So why is it possible to achieve these results through mindfulness practices? The fact is that our brain, as scientists have recently shown, is neuroplastic. It is able to change under the influence of external experience.
By the way, the participants themselves also confirmed that their stress levels decreased after the course, which means that the subjective perception of what happens in life also changes for the better after mindfulness training.
How to test your mindfulness right now?
- The first exercise in the MBSR program is called raisin meditation. But of course, you can substitute raisins for any other product you like. For example, grab a small piece of chocolate in your hand and focus all your attention on it. Touching it, feeling what it is, what shape it has, what sensations the surface of the chocolate causes, think about the uniqueness of this piece. Imagine you are an explorer and this piece is the subject of your research. Then focus your attention on the smell of chocolate and have a good time. Then place the piece on the tongue so that it begins to melt. Listen to the sensations in your mouth. There can be up to three hundred different flavors in a bar; try to choose some of them. If you notice that you are distracted, simply identify what is distracting you and try again. When the chocolate is completely melted, slowly swallow it. How did it make you feel? Did you like chocolate better this time than if you ate it at your usual pace? The Mindful Eating method is the basis of the Mindful Eating program for people with food addictions and eating disorders. Through mindfulness skills, they learn to eat well and not overeat. Because when we eat carefully and slowly, we need much smaller portions to feel full.
- Conscious Listening. How often are we fully present in what our interlocutor says? Even during an important conversation, as we listen, we are simultaneously evaluating, thinking about our own thoughts, and planning. Try to focus as much as possible on the words of the speaker during a conversation. You will see how practicing conscious listening skills will change the quality of communication, you will pay attention to many nuances that you have not noticed before, and you will begin to hear better between words. Try to learn to be 100% present in the story of your interlocutor.
You can create your own conscious rituals. When you wake up or go to sleep, try to take at least five conscious breaths and exhalations. Do a mindfulness practice with your cup of coffee in the morning. If you do not have the patience and interest to drink all your coffee consciously, take at least the first sip consciously. Red traffic light? Take a deep breath and watch your breathing. Are you going to wash your hands? Do it consciously, too, being the texture of water, soap. Brush your teeth consciously, feeling the movement of the brush in your mouth. Even during these short internships, your autopilot will get in your way and your thoughts will wander. Determine what distracts you and refocus on your practice. Mindfulness is primarily a practice, not a theory. You can read many books and watch all the videos on Youtube, but without real (and constant!) Practice the theory will be ineffective.
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