Mindfulness practice is thousands of years old. Some even argue it is a natural skill much like walking. It’s just that society hasn’t valued it so we weren’t taught as kids. This has caused our mindfulness-muscle to go flabby and be forgotten.
Both those premises are currently changing.
You can’t turn around or there’s another article about mindfulness, a course or a retreat, and many schools are introducing forms of mindfulness into their curriculum.
If you wonder why it has suddenly become insanely popular (to the point of risking a place in the top-10 of irritating fads) here are seven reasons for its revival and prevalence:
- Once you master the basics, you never need another course again – just keep practising on a not too irregular basis;
- It’s a cheap and simple modality that everyone can master and no one can do wrong;
- We finally have the science to prove the benefits of daily meditation practice;
- Over the past decades, it has been freed from religious and airy-fairy connotations by people like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Eric Harrison and lately in New Zealand, Karl Baker, and returned to the realms of effective body/mind human hygiene. Think of it like this: what brushing does for your teeth, mindfulness does for your mind;
- It has been cleverly re-branded from not so catchy (attention training) to pretty juicy (mindfulness/meditation);
- It doesn’t require you to change anything and you don’t need to buy anything (although you may want to spend some money on initial training and guidance to get you going);
- We live increasingly hectic lives in an overwhelming, fast-changing world, so we can all do with something that brings us back to our natural state we all, to one degree or another, have a hunch about and a hunger for.
You probably know about the main benefits. Regular mindfulness practice improves sleep, is an antidote against anxiety and depression, lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and improves the immune system.
But you don’t have to be stressed, desperate or on anti-depressants to reach for this fascinating, mind-altering modality.
Even in a life that feels quite balanced, the advantages of using mindfulness meditations are bountiful: improved focus and clarity, increased creativity and more easy going in relationships with your self and therefore others, to name a few.
And maybe the best thing of all: it is devoid of the subtle pressures of self-improvement, behaviour changes and self-help techniques. Because it is about being aware, not about fixing anything about yourself or a situation.
For sure, things may improve for you and you may find the space to make different choices in your work, relationships and so on. But that is not the primary aim. The primary aim is to observe, notice and allow things to be as they currently are. All the benefits and outcomes will naturally follow.
In the first instance, it is about being relaxed in the present moment. Because the minute we start looking for results, our nervous system tenses up and all benefits fly out the window.
The effects of this “Sitting Still and Shutting up for 12 minutes a day Practice” will surprise you. Give it the benefit of the doubt and find out how to do this. Try you must, because it is an experiential practice, like cycling, swimming, sexing, eating: you can read about it until you’re blue in the face, but you will still not know if it’s fad or fab. You need to do it. Give it at least 6 days a week for 12 minutes a day during a month. Then, if it doesn’t suit you, you can always abandon it. At least you will have given it a try.
If you’ve tried it already, leave a comment on this blog below and share your experience. It would be great to hear from you!© Sitara Morgenster