When was the last time you felt awake, aware and fully engaged? Probably more recently than you might think.It may be a surprise to learn that mindfulness is your natural state. Before multi-tasking and deadlines became the norm, humans would naturally become absorbed in one function at a time, only choosing to abandon the shores of tranquillity when a predator or threat invaded the scene. The advent of the digital age ushered in access to more information than we’ve ever had before and with it more pressure to know more, do more and become more. The results are often scattered attention, diluted problem-solving abilities, anxiety and fatigue, along with that unsettling undertone that convinces us we’re falling behind, will never catch up and are about to be found out. The stage is then set for the grand entrance of impostor syndrome with many clinicians subscribing to the view that you ‘rise to the level of your incompetence’.
As a healthcare professional or student, you probably experience more demands than most on your time and energy.
Having to make snap decisions with limited resources in squeezed timeframes can lead to less-than-ideal outcomes and dissatisfaction.The bad news is, your schedule is unlikely to ease up anytime soon. The good news is, there are some techniques you can adopt that will help you master the illusion of time by dropping deeply into the moment and becoming fully present. The dividends of this practice include more pleasure in your work, greater productivity and better health for you and your patients.Mindfulness is one of those beneficial techniques that helps you do less and be more. In this blog series, we’ll be exploring the properties of mindfulness, kindfulness and heartfulness as instruments to enhance your wellbeing and add an extra dimension to your daily practice.
What exactly is mindfulness?
Although the study and practice of mindfulness originated in the Buddhist tradition and there are various explanations, the scientific definition of mindfulness is ‘the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness and acceptance.’According to Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D, who is widely regarded as a master of mindfulness and the founder of the mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) 8-week program, the practice makes you more attentive and less inclined to respond to thoughts and become distracted. He reminds us that when you pay attention to your breathing, you are moving out of the conceptual realm and into the awake, aware realm. He believes that if you practice it even for tiny moments each day you will ignite deep compassion within yourself. Various clinical studies show the link between practicing mindfulness and increased wellbeing.Dr Kelly McGonigal health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, claims that when people train in mindfulness, they are better prepared and more willing to deal with suffering. She suggests that by imagining you have nostrils on your chest, attending to your breathing and connecting with your values, you can increase vagal tone and positive emotions.
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