For me, 2015 has been the year of the fragmented brain.
Information overload can take its toll, making memory recall and organizing tasks a challenge. By the end of the day, it’s hard to stop thinking and planning, and sleep doesn’t always come in eight hour increments.
I’ve made a lot of progress with diet and exercise to help sharpen the mind. I cut sugar from my diet, along with simple carbohydrates and most of the junk that disrupts the body’s equilibrium while offering little nutritional value. I took on a light, five-day per week exercise routine and got rid of an unwanted forty pounds that snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking.
But I’m realizing that to experience deeper, long-term wellness, I need to make the most of how I use my mind on a day to day basis. And mindfulness meditation might have something to offer.
So what is mindfulness, exactly? In his primer, Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness practice as ‘awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.’ It is a form of meditation, which Kabat-Zinn describes as (and I paraphrase here) regulating our attention to transform our experience, ‘in the service of realizing the full range of our humanity and our relationship to others and to the world.’
OK, pretty heady stuff… I thought mindfulness was taking a mental break now and then to keep stress levels in check and help the brain function better. Enlightenment seems a bit of a more of a stretch, but you never know until you try.
Off we go on week one of a two-month experiment. I’ll start by trying to learn the meditation part, just trying to sit still and focus for ten minutes a day this week. (Fortunately, there’s an app for that.) ‘Realizing the full range of my humanity’ is probably a longer-term goal, but I’ve entered it into task manager in Outlook – just in case!