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  • Writer's picturePaul Hurley

How Mindful Are You?

Updated: Apr 26, 2020

These days, you will hear a lot about how important mindfulness is.  This is especially the case in this digital age of ever-advancing technology.  Pause for a moment and consider how much the way you live is influenced, if not controlled, by technology. 

As wonderful as the Internet undoubtedly is, think about all the millions of people all around the world whose lives mostly consist of a combination of text messages, Facebook posts, and Instagram selfies. 

Worst of all, it's very likely that you own a mobile phone which you carry around in your pocket every waking hour.  If so, it is equally likely that you check your phone countless times to see if you have received any messages or if someone has "liked" one of your posts or photos on social media.  If not, you can always count on your phone to literally alert you in the form of constant notification buzzes all throughout the day.  

According to a 2010 Harvard study, your mind is not present with what you are doing for about half of your life, 47% of the time on average.  Bearing in mind that we are now a full decade beyond when that study was conducted, my guess is this percentage is even lower now.  Rather than being tuned into the present, the masses instead waste way too much of their time either ruminating, judging, worrying, or even obsessing about things they couldn't ever possibly control in the first place.

Ahead of any other priority, both your brain and nervous system are wired to help you survive.  Your brain is therefore on constant alert, scanning for threats and triggering the "flight or flight" stress response whenever it interprets danger.   While this has worked impeccably well all throughout human history, this was only ever meant to occur on an occasional frequency.  This is because the "fight or flight" state stresses you both physically and psychologically to an enormous degree. 

Unfortunately, modern day living incurs various stresses on a daily basis, including many for which the human body is simply not designed to be able to handle.  A perfect example would be the challenges facing corporate employees.  Many are under constant pressure to achieve monthly sales targets and impress their bosses with presentations.  At the same time,  they worry about endless upskilling, because they'll never be considered good enough otherwise.  Add to this the fear of their companies downsizing, ultimately letting them go and the subsequent catastrophic effect it would have on every aspect of their lives.   If you can relate to any of this, you will benefit enormously from regularly practising mindfulness.  

One of the best things about mindfulness is that it is incredibly simple and easy to learn.  It is neither esoteric or mysterious.  Think of it as being exercise for the brain, through which you develop the ability to pay attention.  There is no chanting or meditation involved and the results it generates is supported by experts in neuroscience.

Since your neurobiology is designed to react quickly rather than to thoughtfully respond, you instinctively tend to resist the unfamiliar and instead stay safe within your familiar comfort zones.  This is what causes you to automatically distance yourself from those who don't seem similar to you.  While it may indeed be a natural phenomena, it doesn't exactly promote peace and harmony, let alone inspire new and exciting collaborations.  Imagine for a moment how much you would benefit if you could be present for even 10% more of your life.

If constant distraction is the problem, then mindfulness is the solution.  By exercising your brain, you learn how to pay attention to only that which is truly important.  Rather than automatically and unconsciously drifting into autopilot mode, you are instead fully present and "in the moment".  This enriches all of your life experiences, whether it be enjoying the food you eat on an entirely deeper level or simply enjoying and appreciating the time you spend with loved ones.  Once this happens, you will instantly realise that you were previously missing out on so many simple, yet amazing things, that life has to offer.  

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