Cheat sheet fact of life: Living in the present moment brings you peace
Last week, MIT organized ‘Solve‘. The event brought together the best brains in all fields to solve the greatest challenges of our world. ‘Solve’ creates a roadmap for the fundamental question, ‘How to provide food, energy, education and healthcare to the growing population of this planet?’ I could not attend the main event of ‘Solve’ so I grabbed the opportunity to attend a free session on mindfulness.
The first female psychology Professor at Harvard, Prof. Ellen J. Langer spoke about how mindfulness matters. She did four years of research on mindfulness and several case studies to assess the benefits of being mindful. She mentioned that participants who watched TV mindfully, saw a boost in their immune system. Chambermaids who were mindful that their work is exercise lost more weight than the control group who did work as work.
Now back to the main question: What is mindfulness?
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz
How many times have you been on autopilot, while brushing teeth, while eating, and while driving to the workplace? We do these tasks mindlessly. Rather, than concentrating on the task we are doing, we either think about the future or the past.
Our mind oscillates between the past and future, as a result of which we are either sad or anxious. Sad that our memories were so wonderful and anxious about the problems that the future will bring.
Mindfulness is a state, where we are awake and aware of our thoughts and actions. We look at each thought without judgement as it surfaces in our mind. We neither encourage it nor kill it, and let it pass. The benefit of being mindful is that we are happier, because we don’t give a chance to our thoughts to overpower us.
I started being mindful, after I read about it everywhere. Being mindful takes practice. We are habituated to being mindless. It takes a conscious effort to live in the present.
Whenever I am on an autopilot mode, busily thinking away, I remember to dissect my thoughts. Well, that is the ‘past’ thought, this is the ‘future’ thought and I also question myself, ‘What are you doing right now?’ and I come back to the present. Being mindful does not mean that we cannot think about the past or future. We can do so as long as we know are thinking about it.
When we are mindful, we observe and learn more and also have greater empathy. Research says that mindfulness also increases our physical and mental health.
Start being mindful for a few minutes everyday. Observe your thoughts and actions. Make wiser choices by being aware of your emotions and live a a happier life.
A few resources about mindfulness
Quote for this post: “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” – Henry Miller