Mindfulness – what is it?
Mindfulness initially means nothing more than to be careful with yourself, your mind and thus also with your body. By being mindful in dealing with yourself, other people and everyday life, you can consciously reduce stress and live more healthily . This has been shown, among other things, by American studies.
But what does mindfulness look like in practice? The word can best be described as “focusing on the moment”. A feeling that you will surely remember from your childhood – forgetting the time, sinking into the game. With Mindulness you actively create exactly this positive state.
Let go of all thoughts, relax your body and mind, your metabolismcalm down, restore inner balance – meditation is the keyword . Accordingly, the principle of mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism. If you want to lead a more mindful and healthier life, you don’t have to convert to Buddhism right away.
The American professor Jon Kabat-Zinn transferred meditation as a basic idea of Buddhist teaching and as the basis of mindfulness into medicine and everyday life. Zinn developed his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) as early as 1979 , which aims to help people deal with pain and the negative effects of stress on the body and mind .
For this he has developed a 30-minute meditation exercise as a basis: the body scan, in order to actively feel each individual body area one after the other, to mentally query and to relax.
How is mindfulness used?
Mindfulness is now also used in psychotherapy, burnout treatments or in patients with depressive illnesses . The well-known Frankfurt psychologist Dr. Thomas Heidenreich’s lack of mindfulness in connection with ” processes such as brooding, avoidance of experience and unfavorable metacognitive processes “.
In mindfulness teaching, this also includes quarreling with the past or fear of the future as stressful processes. Focusing on the moment helps block them out.
The core of mindfulness is the positive effects meditation has on mental and physical health. Jon Kabat-Zinn, himself a molecular biologist and staunch Zen Buddhist, has practically combined his knowledge from both worlds.
Lingering in the moment and conscious perception lead to more attention, to clearer thoughts – being in the here and now, combined with a stronger and harmonious body awareness .
With all positive approaches, mindfulness is far from compulsive behavior with permanent smiles. Rather, it is about getting involved in one’s thoughts, feelings, body and surroundings without judgment.
This mindfulness includes not judging your own feelings or thoughts . You do not assign any “wrong” or “right” to them and thus avoid distracting yourself from the actual moment again and directing your thoughts in a different direction.
Build mindfulness into the daily routine
There are various ways of making mindfulness an integral part of your own daily rhythm . On the one hand, you can reduce the stress you feel with simple exercises and slow down. This includes concentrating on your breath, step by step consciously walking and breathing instead of rushing or doing yoga . You can easily find short videos or tutorials on the Internet.
Instructions for learning mindfulness and mindfulness are also available in the form of apps. The number of providers is large and a free version with basic exercises is sufficient to get started .
Most of these apps also have an extended payment option, in which you can take part in mindfulness courses with trainers for a fee. When it comes to prices, you should compare exactly what content you get for what money.
Mindfulness training is of course also possible away from the screen and smartphone. There are now certified mindfulness trainers in many places in this country. It is important for you that your training is recognized by the Association of Mindfulness Germany, so that the content and quality of the course are correct. Mindfulness is also used in cognitive behavioral therapy.
Positive and critical voices about mindfulness
There are now numerous scientific studies and treatises on the subject of intestinal flora, intestinal health and the effect of mindfulness on body and mind. Many come to the conclusion that the principle of mindfulness has a positive effect in everyday life – but there are also dissenting opinions.
Scientists in Havard University’s Havard Gazette come to the conclusion that mindfulness can help with depression. An article in Scientific American magazine sees opportunities for nutritional problems and an improvement in memory through mindfulness training.
At the same time, researchers question the reliability of mindfulness studies and sometimes criticize unscientific procedures. One of them is psychologist Nicholas Van Dam in American Psychologists magazine. He lacks evidence of the effects of mindfulness.
The American management professor Ronald Purser criticizes the principle of mindfulness that, in his opinion, the causes of stress should not be defined and changed, but rather the individual should adapt. He sees precisely this as a trigger for stress among users.
Mindfulness can be learned – from everyone!
However different the opinions on mindfulness and mindfulness may be: You can take the pace out of your life through meditation. The basic idea of mindfulness is to perceive moments, to enjoy them and to generate positive emotions – triggered by messenger substances such as serotonin or dopamine, which are largely produced in your intestines.
Scientists now refer to it as the second brain . A network of more than 100 million nerve cells collects information here. They are sent directly to the brain via the vagus nerve, the so-called abdominal-brain axis – also to the areas that are responsible for feelings.
In addition, the bacteria are your intestinal flora, medically correct microbiome, an important part of your emotions and thus also your positive or negative attitude towards life.
Researchers at the Irish University of Cork have found out that bacteria in the intestinal flora are involved in the production of the building blocks of the happiness hormone serotonin. A healthy microbiome is therefore important for a happy life. This also includes being mindful of yourself.
The effects of mindfulness on the body and mind
The website of Berkeley University in California lists various positive effects of mindfulness and, according to its own statements, mostly refers to studies and research. So should mindfulness
- strengthen the immune system after eight weeks of meditation according to the MBSR principle by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Increase positive emotions, reduce stress and relieve depression
- strengthen the brain regions for learning, memory, emotions and empathy
- promote concentration and attention
- Relax relationships between lovers through understanding
- Enabling parents and parents-to-be to better deal with pregnancy and children by reducing anxiety, depression and stress
- promote a healthier diet through mindful eating and help with weight problems
Now, meditation in the sense of mindfulness does not automatically mean that you have to spend a set amount of time doing exercises – even if you can of course do that. The opposite of mindfulness would be if you build up additional stress through a temporal pressure scenario .
Mindfulness is primarily about the conscious perception of everyday life as a simple form of meditation. Instead of distracting yourself, you immerse yourself intensely in what you are doing. For example:
- Instead of thinking about the tax return in the shower in the morning, you let the water run over your skin. You close your eyes, feel the waterways and the crackling drops, the warmth on your skin, while you breathe in and out deeply.
- If you think about your next appointment while eating, enjoyment becomes mechanical ingestion . But the ingredients, the colors, the smell, the spices, the slow immersion while chewing into ever deeper worlds of taste – all of this makes your lunch break a wonderful experience and gives you the momentum for the rest of the day with the feeling of happiness.
- If you find the way to somewhere superfluous, pointless or exhausting, the stress level increases with the anger. If you instead consciously perceive the colorful trappings, the conversations, the people, the air, the rain, the sun or scenes at the roadside with open senses, the originally annoying route becomes an exciting and positive journey. You are feeling fine.
Mindful breathing as part of everyday life
An important aspect of mindfulness is breathing as a connection between inside and outside. It is the omnipresent drive with which you can control the speed of your life and thus also your body functions. If you concentrate on the calm flow of your breathing, stress and tension can be relieved .
Here, too, mindfulness plays a role through being in the moment. If you are out on a bike, the fresh air becomes a joy when you consciously enjoy it. But if you are not sitting on the bike in your mind, but are already at home with the children and their homework, the moment for mere oxygen intake withers.
Learn, apply and discover mindfulness for yourself
Of course, you can also take a meditation course based on the MBSR method by Jon Kabat-Zinn in a suitable studio to learn mindfulness. In general, the course lasts eight weeks with weekly practice units of up to three hours. In addition, the participants are encouraged to practice up to 45 minutes a day by themselves at home.
You can also do the meditation using the MBSR method on your own. Instructions are available on the Internet. It would certainly be important that the will and self-discipline are available to achieve the desired goal.
A good tip to stay on the ball: You can write down how long you meditated on which day, how you felt and what you want to improve for yourself during the exercises and also what has improved.
Always good: Bring a friend on board as well . Even if they are not meditating with you – the evening call with the result of the meditation is a good control function and a nice occasion for a relaxed chat on the phone.
Mindfulness is a way to consciously deal with the people, the structures, the burdens and the beautiful things in your own life.
This applies to mothers as well as families with children or managers. The goals of meditation are individually dependent on one’s own living conditions, the physical and mental state and also the stress level.
While for expectant mothers listening to their bodies can lead to intensive contact with their baby and their own emotions, parents learn to deal more calmly with the demands of everyday life. It starts with washing dishes in the kitchen and goes to the question of why everyone is late in the morning. And when it feels like you’re not eating breakfast, but mentally on the way to school or the office.
It is particularly useful for managers to question their own stimulus-reaction schemes with mindfulness and to override them if necessary. By changing behavior in pressure or decision-making situations, for example, a relaxed working atmosphere can be created. The motivation of the employees increases and with it the productivity of the company.
Book tips for mindfulness, mindfulness and meditation
Since Jon Kabat-Zinn first formulated his principle of mindfulness more than 30 years ago, there is now plenty of literature on the subject. A nice recommendation with a foreword by Kabat-Zinn is the book “Mindfulness – the mindful path through the turbulence of life” by Edel Maex.
Ulrich Ott’s work “Meditation for Skeptics: A Neuroscientist Explains the Path to the Self” is also worth reading as an excursion into research for knowledge about mindfulness. And of course: “Come to your senses – the wisdom of the senses and the sense of mindfulness” by Jon Kabat-Zinn himself, where the founder of the MBSR mindfulness training explains his philosophy.
Anyone who completes training for more mindfulness and stress management has a good chance thatthe costs are covered by the statutory health insurance .
That depends in the individual case on the health insurance company and should be requested in advance. In order for the statutory health insurances to assume the costs, it is important that the course is certified and can be found in the database of the Central Prevention Testing Center.
In summary, mindfulness is
- Stress relief, relaxation and health through meditation and yoga
- Bodyscan: an excursion into your own body while meditating
- focus on the moment
- consciously enjoying the moment
- the hiding of thoughts of the past and fears of the future
- rethinking behavior patterns and structures
- generating positive emotions
- the conscious perception of one’s own situation and the environment
- allowing one’s own thoughts without judgment and without distraction