Understanding Mindfulness - Introduction

Updated: May 10

The Practical Application of Mindfulness in "Real-Life"

This Weeks Video

During 2021 I will be doing a series of blogs on the practical application of mindfulness in “real-life” situations. Some of the topics I will be covering will include:

Mindfulness and Parenting – How natural justice and mindfulness interplay.

Mindfulness and Relationship – How to replace angst with love through being mindful.

Mindfulness and Sexuality – How to be sexually mindful when challenged by ED and menopause.

Mindfulness and The Environment – How to be kinder to “the planet” by being mindful.

Mindfulness and The Feminine – How to honour the feminine aspects of our lives.

Mindfulness and The Masculine – How to honour to the masculine aspects of our lives.

Mindfulness and Depression – How to relate to depression differently through being mindful.

Mindfulness and Ageing – How to mindfully engage getting old.

Mindfulness and Death – How mindfulness brings a new perception to death.

Mindfulness and Addictions – How to sustainably change your addictions through being mindful.

Not in any particular order.

You might recall that I refer to the EAP approach to mindfulness as being a Western approach. There is a distinction between meditation and mindfulness in this regard. From the Western perspective, contemplative meditation is the practice that makes living mindfully a seamless function of life. I define Western mindfulness in this way - remembering in each moment that you have a choice to be kinder to yourself, to others and to the planet. That said, having observed the choice (the first part of being mindful) you then follow the path of least resistance. That means that even though you have stopped and remembered that you have a better serving alternative, instead to having to use will or discipline to make that choice, you choose what you feel naturally inclined to do, which may still be the less serving option.

How this Western approach works is grounded in the more recent neuro-scientific research about new neural pathway development. Embracing this concept of neuroplasticity, the act of being regularly mindful of a better serving alternative (without having to choose it) effectively develops a new neural pathway. A neural pathway that becomes more developed leads to the brain instigating a new set of behaviours, as the pathway that was responsible for the old behaviours atrophies. Eventually these new behaviours quite naturally replace the old ones and are sustained through the practice of mindfulness.

I call that moment of adopting the better serving choice the ‘tipping point’. It’s that moment when we feel naturally inclined to behave, think or feel differently. Just because you have done it once doesn’t mean you will keep making that choice, but if you continue to be mindful of that choice, you will be more inclined to keep making that choice. Since the other neural pathway hasn’t completely atrophied, when presented with a stressful situation, the natural tendency is to revert to the old, more tried and tested pathway. That’s because we know we can survive that and it takes no effect to engage.

It’s that time of changeover from the old to the new that presents the most challenges. Once again we aren’t wanting to resort to will or discipline to bring about the change. We still want it to be a loving choice. One way to minimise the exposure to this transition period is to ‘turbo charge’ the development of the new neural pathway. The way to do that is to link the successful adoption of the thoughts, sensations and feelings of the new pathway firstly with acknowledgement for the difference it has made in your life and secondly, creating a reward for succeeding. Acknowledgement and reward fuel our desire for more, which makes it easier for us to choose the more loving option. So during 2021, I will explain how to use this powerful approach to sustainable change in this diverse range of subjects.

Click here to watch the video by Sentis on Neuroplasticity

Read More From This Series

Part 1 - Mindfulness and Relationship: How to replace angst with love through being mindful.

Part 2 - Mindfulness and Food: Breaking free from your habitual relationship with food.

Part 3 - Mindfulness and Parenting: How natural justice and mindfulness interplay.

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