Mindfulness is becoming quite the buzzword in health these days. Especially in psychology where more and more studies are demonstrating impressive mental and physical health benefits of being mindful. Many of these studies even show actual physical changes in the brain.
Studies done in Russia have shown that using Transcendental Meditation (a technique using chanting of a mantra to focus attention on the present moment), showed increased growth in areas of the brain related to perception of information and balancing of the left and right hemispheres of the brain. (1) If our brains are perceiving information better, and sharing it and processing it faster between hemispheres, we could say that meditation (practicing mindfulness), makes us smarter!
I define mindfulness as such: It is the state of Consciousness in which your attention is focused in the present moment with acceptance. Sounds simple I know, but actually it can be quite difficult to maintain, until we train our “Mindfulness Muscles.” Actually, we can spend huge amounts of our lives with our attention elsewhere. Some studies say approximately 50% of our waking lives, our attention is focused on events in the past and/or future. Many of these events that we are mulling over are producing stressful responses (and hormones) in the body that can be damaging to our health and cause us to make poor choices, sabotage relationships, over-eat, sap our energy and put on unnecessary weight.
My understanding of consciousness is that it is the love and intelligence of the universe. Our individual consciousness is a small, but important part of this Universal Consciousness. I believe that this Universal Consciousness can go by many names. I believe it is the same as what’s known as The Goddess, God, The Christ Consciousness, The Holy Spirit, The Great Spirit, Buddha Consciousness, Pranic Consciousness, Wu Chi, and many more that could be named. As tiny parts of this amazing universe, we each have our own part of this consciousness that to some extent, is under our control. This “Personal Consciousness” is not only housed in our brains. Many studies have shown it to be in our bodies, and more recent studies are suggesting that our Personal Consciousness extends out into the environment beyond our bodies!
We’ve all been told, (and are always telling our kids) “Pay attention!” We ask to have them pay or give us their attention, and their attention is truly a gift. For with that attention comes intelligence and love. With mindfulness we learn to give our attention (our intelligence and love) to the present moment. That is a gift to the intelligence and love of the Universe that not only is existing and functioning in the present moment, but is also communicating its love and intelligence to us in the present moment. It is giving us its attention in the present moment. All energy is flowing and transmuting in the present moment as well. Our bodies are either regenerating or degenerating in the present moment. Healing of disease is happening in the present moment. Everything (Omnipresence) is existing and happening in the present moment. If we want to tap into these energies for our healing, we do it in the present moment.
As we spend more time and attention being mindful, we begin to notice that there is a great unending depth to the present moment. As we pay more attention to what is happening in this moment, our awareness begins to expand. This awareness expands externally to the world around us, but also internally to the world within, including our bodies. This Universal Consciousness of love and intelligence is all around us, and deep within. I call this the Spiritual aspect of mindfulness.
The Physical aspect of mindfulness is just as remarkable! When we are mindful and breathing naturally, our nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves, neurotransmitters, and fascia) switches from a stressed state of excess tension and degeneration to a regenerative state of relaxation, regeneration, coordination and optimum transcription of our DNA. This is the nervous system state that we want to be in as much as possible. This is “The Zone!” Not only does this put us in the frame of mind and body to achieve all of our health goals, but it also feels great!
1. McTaggart, Lynne. The Field. 2008