I’ve been hearing more and more about mindfulness over the last few years, how it can reduce stress and anxiety, increase happiness and satisfaction, boost your immune system and no doubt increase your health and your lifespan! I believe it originated from a form of Bhuddist meditation though now is a form of practice not necessarily related to any religious principles though might well have deep roots of spirituality if you are that way inclined. Another translation of the original word is Awareness…
The consistently good news about the health benefits of mindfulness encouraged me to take up the practice myself and I found you need to get no more spiritual than having an interest in your own breath and breathing. I bought a book called: Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Pearson. This book is clear and easy to read. The accompanying audio track was particularly helpful tool as a very simple and easy way to get into the regular practice of a mindfulness routine.
The key to mindfulness is to simply be. Not to work, not to strive, just to notice. The practice often focuses on breathing though breathing is not a goal or a magic token. It develops your awareness of the current moment, so the chosen focus can be on breath, on physical sensation of any sort in a non-judgemental way.
The Horizon programme (The Truth Abut Personality) on BBC2 was the presenter, Michael Mosely’s personal journey into the psychological pursuit of happiness. For a while at least, UK residents will be able to see the replay here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b036ypxw/
As Michael Mosely tells his own story, he was becoming more aware of his personal tendency to see the glass half empty, to worry and get anxious about possible future calamities and has been a chronic insomniac for decades.
In an attempt to see if cutting edge research into the understanding of personality and happiness could change this predisposition, he ended up engaging in two very simple practices for just seven weeks… The first was actively looking for the single happy face in a matrix of sad or anxious headshots projected onto his computer screen. The second was the practice of mindfulness meditation for 10 minutes a day.
The programme is full of interesting insights into what technology tells us abut personality, about the way our brains regulate our feelings – or is it our feelings that regulate our brains – and the results as they can be applied to our day to day lives, are satisfyingly simple.
In the course of seven short weeks, Michael Mosely was measurably happier. His brain activity had objectively been changed. His wife commented on how he was much less stressed. He commented that he was sleeping better than for the last ten years.
But for me the evidence was in his face and his body. The man talking to camera at the end of the programme was a much happier man and the happiness was shining from the inside out.
How simple is that?!
Have you found any resources to support your practice of awareness?