We hear a lot today about the importance of mindfulness in establishing and maintaining emotional well being. Have you thought about suggesting it as a tool for those you coach or counsel?
The cultivation of mindfulness has historical roots in Buddhism, but Professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, helped to bring the practice of mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine and demonstrated practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health attitudes and behaviors.
Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment…as if your life depended on it.”
According to a large-scale study done by Harvard psychologists, our minds wander more than half the time and this wandering significantly correlates with unhappiness.1
“No matter what people are doing, they are much less happy when their minds are wandering, than when their minds are focused” says the study’s authors, Daniel Gilbert and Mathew Killingsworth.
Probably no surprise to those of you who are students of recent years of brain research suggesting our default mode of focus tends to be worry or regret and excessive engagement of the default mode is associated with stress, anxiety, depression and attention deficit.2
Of positive note is the contention we can actually “retrain” our brain through meditation to be less emotionally reactive, calmer and better able to focus.3
How to Get Started With Mindfulness Practices
Practice is necessary to obtain the benefits of mindfulness. The most important step in getting started is to set aside time – as little as ten minutes – for daily formal practice. Getting started on your own can be tough, so we recommend finding an app to guide you through mindfulness meditations (Headspace; Calm; The Mindfulness App; and Insight Timer are some good ones to check out).
Do you practice mindfulness? Do you use it in your coaching? We’d like to hear from you! Liz.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Killingsworth, M., Gilbert, D., (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, no.330.
- Sood, A, MD (2013) The Mayo Guide to Stress Free Living
- Brewer, Judson A (2011) Meditation experience is associated with differences in default mode network activity and connectivity. PNAS, vol. 108 no. 50