WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
If you're more skilled at working with your mind and mental states then things go better - for you, and everyone you're in contact with.
How can you get that skill?
Mindfulness training is one of the most effectiveness means available.
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention - in the present moment - to yourself, others and the world around you. Derived from the Buddhist meditative traditions it is now increasingly finding its way into secular contexts. Anyone can train in mindfulness and we now know that such training literally re-sculpts your brain.
Studies at Harvard and elsewhere, for example, have shown that after just eight weeks of training there is a significant increase in brain grey matter concentration in areas associated with sustained attention, emotional regulation and perspective taking. The training also increases activity in your left prefrontal cortex - a predictor of happiness and well-being. And it boosts your immune response.
Mindfulness training gives you more insight into your emotions and it increases your level of attention and concentration. It's been shown to help with stress, anxiety, depression and addictive behaviours and it has a positive effect on issues like hypertension, heart disease and chronic pain. It has also been shown to raise one's level of emotional intelligence and improve relationships. Those completing a course of mindfulness training show significant improvements with respect to emotional intelligence, perceived stress and mental health compared to others.
These days even the US Marines use it. A study carried out in the Corps found that those Marines who trained in mindfulness experienced improved mood and working memory. Under pressure, they were more capable of complex thought and problem solving and they had better control of their emotions. When Marines are on less of a hair-trigger, that makes for a better world for all of us.
Given the benefits on offer, it's hard to think of any reason not to give mindfulness training a go.