Mindfulness for Beginners
Mindfulness for Beginners
I think I am still a mindfulness for beginners kind of guy, because I do not think we ever get as deep into mindfulness as it is possible for humans to go. We do today's work, and then rest for the next days work, and we move deeper into an experience of mindfulness.
(And while there are some parallels to Buddhist tradition here, my mindfulness is a Western mindfulness, full of technology and research, ala Sharon Begley in her book Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain).
I say that after about ten years of Chi Gong training, as an initiate of Transcendental Meditation, as a great appreciator of Open Focus, and as a student and teacher of EEG biofeedback and Heartmath heart rate variability biofeedback, after thousands or repetitions of the Serenity Prayer, and probably tens of thousands of gratitude-is-the-attitude kinds of thoughts.
So it should be obvious that I have been looking for tools that help me become more aware of my thinking and the feelings that flow from them, so that I can change from the uncomfortable to the comfortable, and to renew for even the briefest of moments, my connection to the Higher Power.
The tool that has worked most effectively to help me be what Jon Kabat Zinn calls mindful, which he defines this way;
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;
On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally,"
is Heartmath heart rate variability biofeedback.
What I am hoping to do with mindfulness is to move into what Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D, calls FLOW in his book of the same name.
Since I am very good at convincing myself that I am more skilled at a process than I really am, I like to have a tool that gives me some objective data, and the Heartmath heart rate variability biofeedback program does that for me.
Heartmath heart rate variability biofeedback is a computerized program with a coaching module that teaches me a breathing and cognitive approach to heart rate variability coherence or the lack thereof.
Because there is a biofeedback component, the process is learned after a very short period of practice, compared to what the practice of the Buddhist meditators studied in the Begley book mentioned above, for example.
No one knew that the heart had its own nervous system too long ago, and no one knew that that nervous system could be trained to beat coherently, and no one had studied the impact of a coherent heart beat on the brain, or the higher perceptual centers of the brain until the Heartmath folks did it.
So long story short, Western science is showing there is more to Eastern meditative traditions than conjecture and oral tradition, there are actually measurable changes in the body that result from mindfulness for beginners or experts, and counselors the world over are bringing mindfulness ideas into their practices.
One of the discoveries that mindfulness impacts is called neurogenesis or the growth of new neurons every day, if we take care of the pillars of brain fitness. Nobody knew that we grew new neurons every day until about 10-15 years ago, so science continues to give us information which makes mindfulness for beginners more compelling.
The pillars of brain fitness are physical exercise, nutrition including lots of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants, sleep, stress management (which is where I would put the mindfulness for beginners), and novel learning experiences.
Heartmath heart rate variability can teach me to attend to very subtle shifts in the time between my heart beats, and act to regulate that physiology regularly, so my breathing, thinking, and feelings are attuned to my heart, which has its own sophisticated nervous system.
My heart's intelligence is affiliative and cooperative, and adjusting my thinking and breathing to stay in that pleasant middle spot I think is a great example of mindfulness.
Give it a try.
Would You Share What You Are Most Grateful For?
Very early in my personal growth experience, a wise person taught me to use the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was resentful or afraid and that phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
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