The mind is like a wild horse, without training it just roams incessantly. How much time do you spend thinking about something that happened in the past or worrying about something that might happen in the future? Training your mind to be in the present moment helps you live in a more meaningful way, allowing you to access inner resources that help you deal with stress and difficulties. Horses are strong and majestic animals. When trained, they can do a lot of heavy lifting. Just as you train your body to be physically fit and strong, you can train your mind to be fit and strong.
“If we haven’t trained our mind, the wild horse takes us wherever it wants to go. The process of meditation is taming the horse so that it is in our control, while making the mind an expert rider.”
Mindfulness can be described as a set of mental exercises that train your mind to sustain your attention in the present moment. With this attention you can begin to gain a calm awareness of your own body, feelings, thoughts and emotions.
By having the ability to direct our mind to the present moment, we can:
- Tune out distractions and rein in a wandering mind (Brewer, 2005)
- Build attention, focus and concentration, and heightening productivity (Berger, Kofman et al., 2007)
- Help redirect energy away from emotions of restlessness, anxiety, craving and depression (Williams, Teasdale, Segal, Kabat-Zinn, 2002)
- Reduce stress and increases well-being (Krasner, 2009)
- See more clearly allowing us to make better decision (Goleman, 2000)
- Increase emotional intelligence (EQ) that enhances relationships (Boyatzis, 2001; Goleman, 2000)
- Build inner resilience, by helping us to deal with setbacks (Goleman, 2000)
An ever growing body of empirical evidence shows:
- Changes the structure of the brain by thickening the density of gray matter, the area of the brain linked to learning, memory, emotional regulation and empathy (Lutz, Dunne, Davidson, 2006)
- Boosts the immune system’s ability to fight of illness (Barrett, Hayney et al., 2011)
- Calms the amygdala, which is responsible for the “fight or flight response” (Gaelle, Lobsang et al., 2012)
- Lowers cortisol, a stress hormone (Jacobs, Saron, 2013) which increases blood pressure, and blood sugar (Hughes, Fresco, et al., 2013)
- Increases volume and density of the hippocampus an area of the brain responsible for memory (Luders, Thompson et al., 2012)
- Strengthens areas of the brain that sustain attention, that usually shrink as we age (Mrazek, Franklin, et al., 2012)
- Enhances robust connections between scattered regions of the brain, making us more creative (Davidson, Kabat-Zinn, 2003)
Why Do I Need a Mindfulness Instructor?
I didn’t realize how scattered and unfocused my mind was until I started training it. Having a good command over mental habits is essential, and that is what mindfulness taught me. Mindfulness is a set of mental exercises and body relaxation techniques that allowed me to not only manage stress, but also be more productive. Although the exercises are simple, they are not easy, but then, anything worth attain takes a concerted effort. I teach mindfulness because I have felt its transformative effects and so, I feel passionate about passing these benefits on to other people.
While anyone can learn mindfulness, it is a skill, and one best learned from an instructor that can help guide you through your journey and address any challenges you may have along the way. Let’s take this journey together!