Mindfulness: An an­cient rem­edy for the mod­ern world’s stresses

Post - - LIFESTYLE - AVINASH SAURABH Saurabh is the founder of Aware, a tech­nol­ogy-backed mindfulness trainer app. The views ex­pressed are per­sonal

TO­DAY’S world is full of an un­prece­dented number of dis­trac­tions and anx­i­eties. The cities we work in are denser than ever. Our work­places move at a faster pace than be­fore. The de­vices we own and use for work and leisure are al­ways awake and al­ways hungry for more of our at­ten­tion and time.

Is it any sur­prise then, that our stress lev­els are ris­ing and are ex­pected to rise in the near fu­ture? Not re­ally, just as it is no sur­prise that we are in­creas­ingly more anx­ious. Sleep qual­ity has gone down in the past few decades.

We know that our minds are con­stantly rushed and that this push and pull is not very con­ducive to a healthy life. Mindfulness is what we should look to for per­ma­nent, holis­tic so­lu­tions to our mod­ern mal­ady. Mindfulness is an old tech­nique, de­vel­oped by the Bud­dha in the 6th cen­tury BCE. Ev­ery­one can adopt and ben­e­fit from it.

Be­fore de­scrib­ing the tech­nique and its ben­e­fits, one must un­der­stand what mindfulness re­ally is. Mindfulness is the process of bring­ing our at­ten­tion to what we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in the cur­rent mo­ment. To fo­cus on the cur­rent mo­ment, to stay at­ten­tive in the present, means that in­stead of think­ing about the prob­lems of the fu­ture or the dis­ap­point­ments of the past, we stay calm and re­spon­sive to the mo­ment.

All of this – the calm re­spon­sive­ness, the stress-re­duc­tion – sounds quite at­trac­tive, doesn’t it? You would be quite right to won­der if the tech­nique is very dif­fi­cult to learn or to prac­tise. But as it hap­pens, the trick to be­gin­ning with mindfulness is to start slow. One way to learn to cen­tre your­self in the present is to be­gin ob­serv­ing your breath.

Noth­ing com­pli­cated, just ob­serve the in­hale and ex­hale of the breath. The mind will al­ways try to es­cape the con­fines of the present. It will get bored or agi­tated and move away from the breath. But all one has to do, when the mind moves away, is to bring it back to ob­serv­ing the in­hala­tion and ex­ha­la­tion of the breath. Start with only five min­utes of this prac­tice. Mindfulness dur­ing the day will come much eas­ier to you once you have es­tab­lished a rou­tine that in­cludes a few minute ses­sions. A work day brings sev­eral re­cesses where a small ses­sion can be fit­ted in.

Once be­gun, the prac­tice of mindfulness brings sev­eral ben­e­fits. Be­ing re­ally present is a great one, but there are many oth­ers. Sev­eral re­cent stud­ies have found sig­nif­i­cant stress re­duc­tion among the prac­ti­tion­ers of mindfulness. They also sleep bet­ter. And bet­ter sleep has long been cor­re­lated with longer and health­ier lives. | IANS

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