One of the most nurturing of renewal mechanisms that the human body can indulge in is Mindfulness, according to Richard Boyatzis and Melvin Smith¹. As someone who is very keen on renewing myself on a day to day basis, I find great joy when I do things mindfully. Mind you, I have not mastered it. Just aware. So trials are on to make it a part of me. For example, a walk barefoot on the green grass in the park is something I mindfully did today! Yes, in the hustle and bustle of life it is always not possible to be mindful – and that is when the mind is in autopilot. Sometimes you do things so mechanically that you don’t even realize you have done it. Doesn’t that happen to you?
I have read about mindfulness through the books of Thích Nhất Hạnh (fondly called as Thây), the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and the Dalai Lama. Called in Pali and Sanskrit as smṛti / स्मृति, Mindfulness has its roots in Hinduism and later its offshoot, Buddhism. Perfected by Buddhists, it means focus, attention or awareness – a way of engaging with life and experiencing the present moment. Yet another author whose books have extolled the virtues of being mindful, The Power of Now, is Eckhart Tolle*. “Neurons that fire together, wire together”, said the Canadian Psychologist Donald Hebb. This came to be known as Hebbs axiom and going by this, the more we practice mindfulness, the more we develop neuro-pathways in the brain associated with being mindful. This makes it easier for the mind to be fully in the present moment. In today’s stress ridden existence, living in the moment makes one’s inner being resilient and activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS), according to the studies conducted by Richard Boyatzis and team. PSNS activates a set of hormones that lower blood pressure and strengthen the immune system according to Annie McKee, Frances Johnston and Richard Massimillian.²
While mindfulness is a perfect tool to manage stress, it also helps us to create a world where we experience depth, meaning and an authentic connectedness with everything one does and how we do them.
How can we create mindfulness within us? Use our senses to the hilt. Be aware of what we see. Listen to what we hear. Sniff and experience the smell – follow our nose! What is the texture that we feel? Savour the taste – be it of the elixir of life, water, or of a grape in our mouth. Experience all these. Focus on our breath. Close our eyes. Just delve within. Watch our thoughts and let them go. Be mindful of whatever we do – bathe, brush, walk, talk or even while attending a telephone call.
Wish you a mindful journey ahead! I will also trudge along and yes, we will reach there!!
¹ In Positive Renewal
² In Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion: A Leader’s Roadmap to Renewal
* Power of Now has a series of exercises that can take one through to experience the potent power of the Now.