Why Mindfulness works: an ancient and modern view

How is it, that, from its origins deep in the forest when the Buddha first talked about ‘mindfulness’, it is becoming a powerful method of healing in the 21st century?

At its heart, mindfulness is a method for slowing down body and mind processes in such a way that we can pay attention to what is actually happening in the inner world, in relationship to the outer world.

This way, rather than acting purely out of habit, we can make more conscious choices both in the moment, and in our future planning. We become aware of the inner connections between thoughts, emotions and action, thus bringing more of ourselves into the present moment. We may become a conscious force, acting in the world, with purpose and intention.

A profound teaching : how to be human
It is far more than simply a technique but contains within it a profound teaching on what it means to be human. In the Buddha’s time, it was considered to be the antidote to suffering. In this sense, not only can it combat the stresses of modern life, but when applied constantly, can open doors to being able to align ourselves more precisely with our own particular strengths, and realize our inner potential.

The stresses of modern life
One of the greatest characteristics in modern times are the incessant demands arising from the speed of the external world. We are pulled hither and thither, and have no time to examine our choices or responses. This creates a further, more hidden cycle, where we feel we are not living the lives we could be leading. The mind and body are pulled out of balance, without any coherence. This manifests collectively in the epidemic of mental health problems that afflicts young and old alike.

Modern medicine merely treats the symptom where it arises, and fails to take into account the cause. This tends to be a chemical solution, seeking to change the state of mind and behavior of the afflicted person. Treating the site of affliction by attempting to change the state of consciousness through chemicals, merely reinforces the original problem. It actually reduces the conscious choices and creates a self-reinforcing cycle of helplessness or hopelessness.

Mindfulness helps us create the world we want to live in
Mindfulness, on the other hand, comes from a different worldview from that of modern science, in which the world and humans are seen to be deeply interconnected. Each person is a living being, with a particular history and born into particular conditions. Every part of the human, mind, body, soul is interconnected within itself and within the external world through rich and complex processes. When these processes get blocked, then the pathways needed constantly to nourish the human are also blocked. The range of responses to a situation become limited, and life itself becomes restricted.

In slowing down the body through mindfulness, we can begin to identify where different thought and emotional processes become blocked. We begin to notice how these blockages get played out in daily life – and how they set up reinforcing cycles of experience. We may notice how these emerge in our different relationships and can begin to experiment with new ways of being. We can begin to create the life we want to lead, rather than one which is determined by limited responses.

Validated by modern research
Whilst the easiest way to discover this is through doing it, there is now plenty of research across different disciplines to show the benefits of mindfulness, not only in terms of improving states of mind, but also in improving ways of being at work. Some of the research shows quite precisely how exercising mindfulness affects neural pathways, and over time actually retrains the brain. Thus it has a long-term effect on actually changing our mind. As we change our mind, we change our lives.

Becoming the master of our own ship
In such a way, where before we responded in a way in which we were conditioned to respond to external factors, we can now really be the masters of our own ship. We may not be fully sure of the destination, but we are no longer fully dependent on what other people do. We can choose who we want to be with, how we want to be with them, and what we want to create. Mindfulness helps us connect to those knowing parts of ourselves, and can help us embrace our destiny.

Come and try mindfulness meditation for a day at Pentlow Tower at the promotional price of £50 including home-cooked food.

For more information click the link below:Mindful Living