I have been surprised a few times in the past couple of weeks when clients have said something along the lines of “I think I believe in Mindfulness.” This got me thinking because it is not something I considered that you either believed in or didn’t, like fairies or Santa Clause.
To me it is just something that exists, like thinking, it is after all really about what you are thinking, where your attention is, so not something to be believed or disbelieved. Interestingly as a hypnotherapist I would probably say the same about hypnosis, but that’s for another blog!
I think what was actually being meant was whether or not they believed in the benefits of Mindfulness or whether “doing” mindfulness would benefit them. So that got me questioning do you have to “believe” in the benefits of Mindfulness for them to work? Here should come a warning as I could shoot off in several directions as I have a lot to say on this matter, but I will try and keep it simple, to do this though I will compare it to the placebo effect.
We are probably all familiar with the placebo effect, how when we believe we have taken a tablet that will have a “real” effect on us, it does. Studies have even shown someone can have a full blown allergic reaction if they are told they are being put in contact with a known allergen.
Because their conscious mind “believed” they were under threat the unconscious responses are triggered to protect the body, an allergic reaction then takes place. Ok so that may be an oversimplified explanation but hopefully you can see the significance of belief in this scenario. Bruce Lipton’s Biology of Belief takes this to a whole new level, or Jo Marchant’s book Cure is another fascinating read if you are interested in the power your mind has over your physiology.
So what about Mindfulness? Buddhists knew the benefits of meditation Centuries ago, long before any scientists wired peoples brains to imaging equipment to assess what is actually going on when we meditate, they probably didn’t question whether they believed it or not, they did it because it felt good. Even these days I don’t think you would meditate more than once or twice if you did not experience a benefit, even if that was just a moment of calm. If you were forcing it you probably wouldn’t actually be meditating.
All the scientific research into the effects mindfulness or meditation has on not only on someone’s emotions or feelings but to their thoughts, reactions and responses to situations they are exposed, to point to it being beneficial. These benefits go beyond someone believing that they can cope because they have practiced mindfulness, they prove real structural changes in the brain that will benefit us every moment of every day, helping us be calmer, more resilient, focussed, improved memory and even improve our immune system responses and lessen pain. So if the proof is there, what is there not to believe?!
A little note on what Mindfulness means to me;
Mindfulness to me is less about sitting in a meditation pose with the desire to be doing my practice, it is an opportunity to take half hour out of my day to lie down, relax, focus my mind on the breath or body…and then drift off to sleep…ok so that may not be the “correct” thing to do but I find a 10 minute power nap to be equally as beneficial as the Mindful practice that allowed that to happen. This practice then allows me to be in a positive state of mind as I go about my daily activities. Bringing an awareness in both my mind and body that allows me to make conscious decisions of what I do and how I respond, rather than being driven by emotional reactions. Don’t think I never get a negative reaction or feel stressed or frustrated, I am just aware I am doing it and that I have made a choice to continue down that path or not. Sometimes it feels damn good to be cross! All human emotions are allowed, it is how, where and why we do them that counts.
Since knowing the science behind something I have done for 30 years to manage my chronic health conditions, I believe I have benefited more as I now “believe” I have the ability to make conscious informed choices about the way I am feeling or how I react. This is also down to my NLP, CBT and Hypnosis training but all of these together have transformed my life immensely. So I must be a believer!
If you would like to join me in experiencing any of these brain training therapies then go to my website www.positivitylifecoaching.co.uk where you will find more fascinating blogs, free resources, online courses, mind spa days, classes and of course one to one sessions, and more.
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