Organizations such as Google and academic institutions such as Harvard Business School have recognized the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Programs that have been developed out of MBSR/MBCT are now being taught around the world to employees, managers, health professionals, pupils and students.
Despite current hype, mindfulness is no wonder pill and offers no quick fix. It only develops its full potential when continually practiced and integrated into all aspects of our lives.
Studies in neuroscience have shown that openly and curiously turning towards what is happening in every moment can have a fundamental impact on our brain structure. The following parts of the brain appear to be particularly affected by mindfulness meditation:
- The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) that plays a major role in self-regulation. The ACC is active whenever we focus our attention, inhibit our reflexes and switch strategies. The ACC also plays an important role in learning from our experience. All these skills have shown to be above average in individuals who meditate.
- The hippocampus that seems to be important for resilience, and the brain areas related to pain tolerance.
- The insula, a part of the brain that is integral to introspection (body awareness) and a sense of connectedness to self and others. Brain imaging has shown that the insula becomes energized and strengthened during meditation.
Moreover, it has been shown that what keeps depression alive – negative thoughts and rumination – can, to a certain degree, be found in all human beings, especially in times when we are stressed. It is our busy mind that is constantly analyzing, comparing, judging, planning and remembering that keeps us awake at night and prevents us from living our lives to the full. In MBCT we learn to better understand our minds, so we won’t be driven so much by our autopilot and unhelpful thoughts. MBCT-based courses are aimed at anyone who would like to bring more delight and composure to their lives. In England, adaptations of MBCT are taught in organizations, schools, universities and even in the British Parliament.
- Use their attention more efficiently
- Regulate their emotions
- Create inner space for new ideas and solutions
- Deal in a novel way with challenging situations
- Be present in communication
- Develop compassion for themselves and others
Mindfulness courses can go up to 25 participants. Because of their 8-week format, mindfulness programs can be remarkably effective.
- Book individual sessions that fit your personal time schedule. Just send me a note and we will arrange a telephone conversation.
- Learn from Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Dan Penman that allows you to practice wherever you are at your own pace. In addition, you can sign up for one of the mindfulness days I regularly offer.
- Take an online course with an app like Headspace that provide programs of guided meditation.
Perhaps we can never really find the perfect moment to begin practicing mindfulness. Sometimes we simply have to make a deliberate decision to do something for ourselves and our wellbeing – and then we will also find the time.
- All books by Jon Kabat-Zinn (founder of MBSR)
- Danny Penman: Mindfulness for Creativity, 2015
- Miguel Farias & Catherine Wikholm: The Buddha Pill. Can Meditation Change You?, 2015
- Nigel Wellings: Why Can’t I Meditate? 2015
- Ellen Langer: Mindfulness (Mindfulness without Meditation), 2014 (25th Anniversary Edition)
- Mark Williams & Danny Penman: Mindfulness. A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, 2011 (MBCT)
- Gunaratana: Mindfulness in Plain English, 2011
Mindfulness at the workplace:
- David Gelles: Mindful Work, 2015
- Janice Marturano: Finding the Space to Lead, 2014
- Sharon Salzberg: Real Happiness at Work, 2014
- Daniel Goleman, Focus, The Hidden Driver of Excellence, 2013
- Chade-Meng Tan: Search Inside Yourself (the Google mindfulness-program), 2012
You can find more articles and videos about mindfulness on our platform themindfulness.net. Become a member and join the discussion!