Updated: Aug 7, 2020
The human mind is capable of so many brilliant things. That is, up until it is overcome by stress.
The Prefrontal Cortex is the part of your brain that governs your capacity to think clearly, process, learn, make decisions, create and regulate your emotions. When you experience chronic ongoing stress these executive functions become compromised.
When you feel unsafe, worried, threatened or upset, another part of your brain called the Amygdala activates like an alarm bell to prepare your mind and body to deal with the looming stressor (e.g an emergency, a deadline, an exam).
Usually, when the stressful scenario is over, your mind and body return back to a relatively healthy state. However, if your mind is subjected to continuous stress without adequate rest or recovery (think about an alarm bell that keeps on ringing), your mental health can easily become compromised leaving you vulnerable to anxiety, panic disorder and other stress related conditions.
Mindful Meditation is practiced to strengthen and train your mind to improve how you manage and cope with stress during challenging times. Mindfulness invites you to purposefully shift your attention from your busy mind and life to focus for a short period of time on the present moment. This act in itself offers the mind an opportunity to pause, reboot, recalibrate or simply shift out of a cycle of negative or worrisome thinking.
During a Mindful practice you are encouraged to observe, acknowledge and sit with whatever thoughts, feelings and body sensations arise, moment to moment, even if they are unpleasant or uncomfortable. Over time, learning to tolerate uncomfortable feelings and sensations improves your relationship with them, and can even reduce the impact they have on you.
While Mindfulness does not resolve your challenges, it can help you navigate them with more ease and equilibrium. Practicing Mindfulness teaches you to become more forgiving and less judgemental of yourself, and others surrounding you. At the moment I think we can all do with a dose of being extra kind to ourselves and others.
Mindfulness is not only a meditation practice. It is something that can be integrated into your daily life to help you develop a deeper appreciation for what you do have right in front of you and around you. Living Mindfully means choosing daily activities or tasks such as making a cup of coffee and purposefully trying to staying present for it. For example, noticing the smell of the coffee, the temperature, the taste and how you feel as you sip the coffee. Over time, this practice helps you feel more engaged, appreciative and connected with life itself.
With so much uncertainty surrounding us, carving out time to look after your emotional and physical wellbeing will build your resilience, strengthen your outlook and help you lead your team, family and friends with greater ease.