With roots in zen buddhism, mindfulness practices has been gaining in popularity with self-development, wellness groups and leadership circles over the years. With almost 50 years of scientific research using neuro-imaging techniques, physiological measures and behavioral tests, mindfulness as the act of present-moment awareness has consistently demonstrated its beneficial effects on the subject's mental, emotional and physical wellbeing . There is growing interest by academic institutions to study the wide ranging applications of meditation and mindfulness, meanwhile industry has been eager to encourage mindfulness to the workplace to enhance their firm's productivity output.
Forward thinking corporations are promoting mindfulness in the workplace, from daily meditation breaks to setting up meditation rooms for all staff, to organising leadership retreats for their senior management. Employees who practice mindfulness tend to have higher productivity due to less stress and fewer sick days, people who meditate also show greater tenacity and creativity particularly when it comes to problem solving. Meanwhile happier and healthier employees, and having greater self-awareness induces better communication and cohesion amongst team members.
From kindergartens, schools to universities, various education institutions including some of the foremost in the world are adopting mindfulness programs for their students and staff. Students with meditative practices are able to better manage their stress, emotions, and behavior. The long term outcomes of mindfulness in learning environments enable students to better concentrate and focus, meanwhile they have greater resilience inspite of the rigorous study and school environment. Time out and awareness of their breath are simple exercises that might be adopted in primary school with children showing greater emotional balance and tolerance towards any disturbances during class.
Thanks to the rapidly growing studies on mindfulness, the medical industry are also exploring the interconnedness of the mind-body. Aimed at cultivating and integrating a culture of mind-body medicine in medical centers, academic communities and other care-focused organizations, mindfulness programs in a medical setting aims to improve overall patient care, strengthen the clinican-patient relationship as well as enhance employee health and wellbeing. At the patient level, research is being done to assess the effects on psychology and brain effects as well as behavioral change from the point of healthy eating, stress reduction, pain relief and addition control. At the clinician level, clinical staff who practice mindfulness have respite from a highly pressurised environment as well as become more attuned to their patient's overall wellbeing as opposed to being only focused on a set of physical symptoms.
Atheletes are being coached on mindfulness techniques to help them prepare mentally and physically to enhance their competitive performance. Aside from helping atheletes release anxiety, gain self-confidence and release their fear of failure, some countries have long been adopting meditation and visualisation techniques to simulate practice or the competition process. Researchers have discovered that visualisation techniques produce the same brain activity in EEG monitors as if though the athelete is physically practising, meanwhile mindfulness practices helps atheletes to maintain the optimal mindset for peak performance.
Being fully present, awareness of the NOW, is about letting go of all thoughts and emotions through breath work, active awareness and or complementary meditative exercises. You can also be present in the Now through yoga, exercise or any other activity that helps you to relax and empty what is otherwise a very busy mental and emotional body. Allowing thoughts and ideas to pass by without judgement, the monkey mind will eventually quiet down. When you are not passing judgements on others or finding fault with yourself, there is no internal conflict and both your emotional and mental body are at peace. When all the usual mental and emotional baggage are released or pass through without judgement, your thinking will be clearer meanwhile your experiences will flow with greater fluidity.
Mindfulness may begin with awareness of your body, the depth of your breaths, to how breathing moves oxygen around your body. Honoring the emotions that come up but not attaching to the story, do you have awareness of the layers of feelings and notice where in your body you might experience those emotions? Awareness of your thoughts but not attaching to the chatter tames the monkey mind, morever it is about choosing constructive beliefs and thoughts that raises one's self-esteem. Furthermore, how does the outside environment, sounds, words, visual imagery or people affect you physically, emotionally and mentally?
Awareness of your surroundings from the sounds of the ocean or rain, the way sunlight glistens and sparkle off a dew drop, to the way insects have uniformity in their interaction are all moments where you might at the same time momentarily forget about the egoic-self. Being present in the moment requires your full attention placed on the activity, scene or person that is outside of you. To be in the world but not of the world, refers to being present and not attaching to the stories that are playing out in front of you. The quiet awareness with non-attachment is a state of being that can be achieved with mindfulness or meditation alike.
Mindful awareness of the present moment can grow, unfold and deepen in any number of ways, it is a necessary and vital skillset for self-mastery.
Placing awareness on yourself or having awareness to the envrionment outside of you are equally effective mindfulness approaches. The beauty of mindfulness through whichever means ultimately helps to tame the ego-self, effectively dis-arming your ego and eventually transcending it. When your monkey mind quiets down, you will be able to access the void within. At that point, the truth of your Soul emerges from your heart whispering the infinite wisdom of your beautiful divine self.