Ever since the early 2000's, when the digital revolution started to build up speed, gadgets have become a significant presence in our daily lives, changing how we perceive our environment, our ability to stay focused or to multitask. We have changed our consciousness to better respond to our current environment which is: more digital, faster moving and has more information than ever.
Although consequences of these changes have not resulted in the famous goldfish attention span myth (which states that people have a shorter attention span than goldfish), they have a clear-cut impact on our ability to focus. Our attention span is not diminished by this new context, but has become more demanding and more efficient than before. More to the point, we tend to filter out more external stimuli than we used to. Also, our conscious response to perceived stimuli appears faster, meaning that we tend to use our own preconceptions more often.
Considering this environment, how get we achieve a good balance? How can we ensure that we do not limit our life to our own preconceptions?
Professor Jon Kabatt-Zin is the first one to introduce, define and demonstrate the concept of mindfulness. This specialized term means experiencing each moment of our life in a conscious manner, without prejudging or having emotional reactions. It means paying attention, being curious and accepting what we experience in our lives. Mindfulness is about being able to learn from each new moment, it is not about defining new experiences using preconceptions we already have. Mindfulness means always being aware of our thoughts and actions, it does not mean living on “auto-pilot”.
Living mindfully brings benefits like: diminished stress levels, overcoming depression or anxiety, increasing our feel-good, creativity and ability to focus better or for longer periods of time. These qualitative improvements are direct consequences of adopting a mindful lifestyle which supports openness to learning.
The main objective of this practice is to get reconnected to our more important personal values, to allow us to better understand our environment and limit our bias towards other people. In order to improve our mindful living abilities, please read a few easy to use meditation techniques:
Basic meditation: sit comfortably, in a quiet place and focus your attention toward either your breathing, or a short phrase which you keep repeating in your mind. Let your thoughts appear and disappear, without adding in your judgment.
Sensory meditation: focus your attention on surrounding sounds, smells, touches or tastes, but do not try to act upon them – just make sure you notice all of them.
Emotions meditation: be aware of emotions coming and going from yourself. Allow yourself to define each emotion and name them out loud, but do not judge them or hold on to any of them – just acknowledge their existence.
The most important consequence of mindfulness is that it teaches us how to be more understanding with ourselves, how to be more accepting of our own thoughts and feelings, how to use them to our advantage, rather than fight against them. Mindful living means accepting that each of us is imperfect, thus opening the way towards continual personal development.
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