keep the balance

The Oxford Mindfulness Center defines mindfulness as "moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience, without judgment." Put simply, when you demonstrate mindfulness, you're fully aware of your thoughts, emotions, and actions, but, equally, you don't get caught up in them.

Mindfulness // benefits

In recent years, many big organizations have begun to invest in mindfulness. Google, Nike and Procter & Gamble, for example, provide meditation rooms and classes for employees, and the U.S. Army uses it to help soldiers to deal with stress, before and after deployment.

The advantages of using mindfulness include:

  • better focus

  • improved mental and physical health

  • greater resilience

  • stronger relationships

  • enhanced creativity

Mindfulness means being present in every moment and paying close attention to what is going on right now, instead of worrying about the past or the future.

You can develop mindfulness by following these five steps:

  1. Meditate regularly.

  2. Observe your environment.

  3. Slow down.

  4. Pay attention to routine tasks.

  5. Accept your feelings.

Practicing mindfulness has a number of advantages. It can benefit your mental and physical well-being. And, in your working life, it can reduce stress, improve focus and concentration, increase resilience, aid creativity, and increase your emotional intelligence.

Find out more

Mindfulness // drawbacks

Every coin has two sides, so does mindfulness. No doubt, one can benefit a lot from it. Never the less, Srini Pillay, M.D., is the CEO of NeuroBusiness Group and the award-winning author of numerous books, including “Tinker Dabble Doodle Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind,” claims its several disadvantages:

  1. False memories
    recent study found that mindfulness may increase false memories, though this finding was subsequently challenged in another study in December 2017. If there is truth to this finding, it would suggest that mindfulness does not necessarily help us remember more effectively and may make our memories less accurate. In fact, the first study showed that people who practice mindfulness may be less connected to reality. On the other hand, mind-wandering is better than mindfulness in preventing false memories, so it might help to balance your mental practice by adding different forms of mind-wandering into your day.

  2. Less creativity
    Although mindfulness has been found to be helpful for problems requiring analytical thinking (it clears the mind), greater states of mindfulness have been associated with lower states of creativity. Mindfulness does not help you when solving a problem requires insight. Instead, mind-wandering will likely help you become more creative. Once again, because mind-wandering shuts mindfulness off, it effectively shuts off the creative brain. Positive constructive daydreaming, in particular, may help you if you are looking for creative insight into a challenge you face.

  3. Dissociation, mania, and psychosis
    A recent paper reported that meditation may, in fact, have negative side effects as well. It may lead to increased states of dissociation and feeling disconnected from one’s body. In addition, it may make people more psychotic, anxious, and manic. While many of these studies were on unknown forms of meditation or transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation was associated with dissociation, mania, double vision, and psychosis. However, most of these reports were case histories and not well-controlled research, so they probably matter most if you are already at risk for any of these symptoms.

  4. Narcissism
    To date, there are no studies that demonstrate that narcissism is a result of mindfulness. Yet mindfulness makes you feel better about yourself. Studies have demonstrated that there is a dark side to enhanced self-esteem as well. In fact, having higher self-esteem may be associated with being more aggressive toward others, enhancing one’s self, and narcissism. Losing touch with the egoless dimensions of mindfulness may predispose one to have an air of superiority over others.

    Find out more.

Mindfulness // personal experience

by Lyubov Neporozhnaya

Hi! My name is Lyubov Neporozhnaya, I am a development manager. I like cooking, taking parts in races and studying the topic of health from a scientific point of view. This week I’m going to share my experience on how to be mindful.

A few years ago I started to think about my life in general, at that moment in time I had already finished university. I didn’t have a particular plan for life and realized that I need somehow to grow to achieve a better future. The first step was understanding what I want to do, that wasn’t easy to understand if you used to go throughout the typical pipeline of life such as school, university, career, family, and so on. I felt some kind of tension about this life pathway. It wasn’t for me, it was about how to live for social approval. I started to learn about the ways that I can understand myself and discovered mindfulness.

Mindfulness is something that you have or don’t have from birth. It’s a skill that you can develop throughout your life. And it could be applied in different areas. I tried to understand what I want to do with my life, but instead I started to pay more attention to my body and health. Eventually, it evolved into a passion for me. The circle was complete: I found my future profession in an indirect way and mindfulness played a huge part in it.

To be mindful means to be aware of what is going on around and to be able to observe it without reacting emotionally.

We have a limbic system that is responsible for fast reactions in order to survive. It launches chemical reactions in our bodies, our thoughts come next. With these chemicals in our blood, we react accordingly to them. If we are frightened, then we feel scared and can’t think rationally. For rational and analytical thinking we have the neocortex. It is responsible for accumulating experience and creating solutions that are based on it. But it doesn’t work properly if we are overwhelmed by emotions. Mindfulness is key to control our reactions. In most cases, understanding our feelings and the reasons behind them help us to maintain composure and cope with anger or sadness.

And why is dealing with feelings so important?
First of all, stress can kill us.

It sets off our body into fight or flight mode. It’s good for a short time period, but chronic stress leads to a variety of diseases.

Secondly, emotional intelligence directly depends on how we can handle our emotions. Studies show that people who have strong EQ achieve higher job positions, built deep healthy relationships, live longer and happier lives overall. In addition, mindfulness allows living a life with meaning and which leads to longer life too. As for me, my mindfulness journey started with a simple meditation practice. I have begun to acknowledge my thoughts and how my body feels. With developing my awareness I improved my quality of life. A conscious approach to life helped me to understand what my body needs to be healthy and capable of doing things that I couldn’t imagine before.

Also, I discovered my true desires and gained inspiration to achieve my dreams. But being mindful doesn’t mean that you start to live a happy and carefree life. You still go through difficult times, but you don’t hold on to destructive emotions. I turned to meditation in tough periods of my life. The practice helped me to find peace in a storm. With a calmer mind, it is easier to find solutions or to just accept the situation, learn from it, and move forward.

How to understand that you have become more mindful?
My reactions to the outer world reflect my state of mind. When I have no mental strength even the smallest thing can upset me. For example, breaking a cup could end up with tears. But when I feel mentally strong then circumstances can’t get to me. I meet difficulties as a challenge and I’m ready to go through them. Some techniques to learn mindfulness that I tried personally:

  • Meditation. There a lot of kinds of meditation. In general, meditation teaches how to note thoughts and feelings and not to engage with them. This method we can use in our daily life to step back from emotions and think rationally.

  • Breathing exercises. Deep breathing can help to relieve stress and tension in the body. With full inhales and exhales we send a signal to our bodies to relax and soften. After breathing exercise our mind also becomes calmer and clearer from overwhelming thoughts.

  • Journaling. Writing down thoughts and feelings can help us to understand them. When we find words to describe feelings we became aware of what they look like.

  • Yoga. This is a type of movement when you try to concentrate on breathing and feelings in the body. Practicing yoga also develops mindfulness.

To start developing mindfulness you should understand the main reason for it which will motivate you to do early morning meditations or yoga before bed. The result will definitely come after consistent everyday actions.

That’s all by now, stay amazing <3

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