Do you ever find yourself in a room and then forget why you are there?
I want to reassure you; you are not crazy! It’s just that you are not fully present or aware.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness means being aware and fully present in what is happening; settling into the present moment. It results from the fact of intentionally bringing one’s attention, thoughts, bodily sensations to the present moment, without judging.
The practice of mindfulness produces an increase in our awareness and helps us to replace reactive and automatic behaviors in our daily life with conscious and functional choices.
The concept of mindfulness has its roots mainly in Buddhist contemplative traditions. It aims to reduce and eliminate the suffering associated with a misunderstanding of reality by drawing its origins from the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path belonging to the oldest Buddhist spiritual culture:
- “Suffering is a part of nature and of human existence.”
- “The origin of suffering is attachment, aversion, poor vision.”
- “The cessation of suffering is possible.”
- “The path for the cessation of suffering exists and the path is the NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH.“
The Noble Eightfold Path guides the practice of the Buddhist ideal of life in the individual and consists of:
- Right views (samma ditthi)
- Right thoughts (samma sankappa)
- Right speech (samma vaca)
- Right action (samma kammanta)
- Right livelihood (samma ajiva)
- Right effort (samma vayama)
- Right mindfulness (samma sati)
- Right concentration (samma samadhi)
Mindfulness was introduced to the West in 1979, thanks to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a doctor of molecular biology who graduated from MIT in the United States. Practicing yoga and meditation himself, he adapted the Buddhist practices of Mindfulness to the secular medical environment to reduce stress for both patients and caregivers by offering specific protocols and programs.
Mindfulness is deployed today in many spheres of our society and is the subject of a growing number of scientific studies. Moreover, several studies have shown that the long-term practice of mindfulness confers a number of benefits through changes in the functioning and structure of the brain, by activating the left frontal and prefrontal neocortex, thus reinforcing behavioral activation and extraversion (attitude and/or behavior of an individual who shows great ease in establishing contact with those around them, who easily expresses their feelings).
Thanks to this same mechanism, it can directly counteract anxiety.
It also increases the integration of a number of areas of the brain that are essential for emotional regulation. Specifically, through increased connectivity, it allows the prefrontal cortex to better regulate the activity of the amygdala, thereby reducing the tendency for anxiety and overreactions.
Changes in the structure can be observed in various areas of the brain related to the limbic system.
Know that mindfulness is a quality that every human being already has.
It’s not something you have to imagine; you just have to learn how to access it.
It can be cultivated through formal meditation and informal practices (being present during activities throughout the day, for example).
Personally, I prefer to speak of full presence, because the idea of mindfulness can be ambiguous compared to the fact that there could be a lot of things associated to consciousness. And if the spirit is full, we will not go in the right direction. This is why it is relevant to talk about presence: to be present is to focus on the present moment.
Ultimately, mindfulness is all about being fully aware of the present moment.
You can get an idea of your predisposition to mindfulness by answering the following questions with: Almost always, Very often, Quite often, Quite a bit, Rarely, or Almost never.
- I can experience an emotion and only realize it after a while.
- I knock over or break things through carelessness or inattention or because my mind is elsewhere.
- I find it difficult to stay focused on what is happening in the present moment.
- I tend to walk quickly to reach a destination, not paying attention to what is going on or how I feel along the way.
- I hardly notice the signs of physical tension or discomfort until they start to become an issue.
- I almost always forget people’s names the first time they tell me.
- I often operate on an automatic mode without really being aware of what I am doing.
- I do most activities without really paying attention.
- I am so focused on my goals that I am unaware of what I am doing to get there.
- I do my work automatically without being fully aware of it.
- Sometimes I listen to someone with one ear while doing something else at the same time.
- I sometimes find myself in certain places, suddenly surprised, and not knowing why I went there.
- I am preoccupied with the future or the past.
- I sometimes find myself doing things without being fully aware of what I am doing.
- Sometimes I eat automatically without really knowing that I am eating.
For each question if you answered by: Almost always, count 1 point; Very often, count 2 points; Quite often, count 3 points; Quite a few, count 4 points; Rarely, count 5 points; Almost never, count 6 points.
Add up your points and divide by 9.
You will get your Mindfulness Predisposition Score out of ten. The higher your score, the higher your predisposition.
- Association pour le Développement de la Mindfulness. 2019-2021. https://www.association-mindfulness.org/index.php