Mindfulness – just a trend?
If we accept our limitations, we can go beyond (Albert Einstein)
The benefits of a mindful lifestyle are well documented and can be learned by anyone with some will and dedication. Mindfulness is not an esoteric approach of philosophising, but a researched form of mental training for more life satisfaction.
Mindfulness is practiced worldwide in companies such as Google, IKEA, SAP and Goldman Sachs, but also at many universities and by top athletes. ABC News anchor Dan Harries summarises the benefits of mindfulness in this short video.
Mindfulness can be defined as “the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally” (Kabat-Zinn).
Benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness, practiced in formal meditation and integrated into daily life, has been shown to improve our physical and mental health. Well over 100 controlled studies (conducted at universities such as Harvard, Oxford, Max Planck Institute) report on the benefits of mindfulness in various health areas, including sleep disorders, depression, pain, and addiction. In addition, data show that meditation lowers cortisol levels, counteracting the toxic effects of chronic stress, improves concentration, enhances creativity, self-awareness and regulation, and social skills.
What we think, how we act and what we focus on changes the structure and function of the brain (neuroplasticity). Through meditation we increase our self-awareness and strengthen the areas of the brain responsible for focus and emotional regulation. This leads to a greater sense of well-being, creative thinking and the ability to concentrate, as well as increased social skills.
The success of the intervention depends on the inner condition of the intervener.William O’Brien
Emotional competences are important for dealing with stress personally and especially in a social context. Mindful leaders sense when a break is appropriate. They can also put things into perspective in difficult situations and take the view of others. Furthermore, they are compassionate, present, clear and honest with people around them. These soft skills separate an average leader from a successful one. A fact that has been proven in several workplace studies.
Mindfulness-based and ideologically neutral standard training for which I am qualified:
Small selection of study data
Creativity and focus: Mindfulness training leads to significant increases in attentional performance and cognitive flexibility, as shown in this study comparing people with and without meditation practice (Concious and Cognition 18, pp. 176-186, 2009).
Neuroplasticity: MRI images taken before and after an 8-week MBSR course show that participants’ gray matter became significantly denser in areas relevant to memory, attention, and emotional control (Psychiatry Res. 191, pp. 36-43, 2011)
Conflict management: Willingness of Israelis to engage in political compromise in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was significantly increased immediately after 8 weeks of MBSR training and 6 months thereafter compared to a control group (Mindfulness 8, pp. 1345-1353, 2017)
Emotional intelligence: The world’s largest secular meditation study shows that different functional areas of the brain are trained depending on the meditation technique. Conversational meditation and observation of one’s thinking increase social skills and a sense of connection (Mindfulness 8, pp. 218-231, 2017)