Whatever philosophical doctrine you take, the impression always remains that the mind and body are two entities of a fundamentally different nature, which are separated from each other. However, in the 1980s, biologist John Kabat-Zinn, a professor at the University of Massachusetts who practiced Zen and Vipassana himself, suggested using the practice of mindfulness – one of the varieties of Buddhist meditation – for medical purposes. In other words, act on the body through thoughts.
The method was called “Stress Reduction Based on Mindfulness Practices” and quickly proved to be effective. It also turned out that this practice helps with chronic pain, depression, and other serious conditions – even when the drugs are powerless.
“The scientific discoveries of the last decades contributed to the triumphal success, which confirmed: meditation changes the structure of brain zones associated with attention, training and emotional regulation, it improves executive functions of the brain and increases immunity,” says psychologist and coach Anastasia Gosteva.
However, this is not about any meditation. Although the term “practice of mindfulness” combines different techniques, they have one general principle that John Kabat-Zinn formulated in the book “Practice of meditation”: we direct our attention in the present to feelings, emotions, thoughts, while we are relaxed and not formulated no value judgments (such as “what a terrible thought” or “what an unpleasant sensation”).
How it works?
Often the practice of mindfulness (awareness) is advertised as a “pill for everything”: it supposedly solves all problems, relieves stress, phobias, depression, we will earn a lot, we will establish relationships – and all this in two hours of classes.
“In this case, it is worth considering: is this possible in principle? – warns Anastasia Gosteva. – What is the cause of stress in modern man? A gigantic stream of information falls upon him, which absorbs his attention, he does not have time to relax, to be alone with himself. He does not feel his body, does not realize his emotions. He does not notice that negative thoughts are constantly spinning in his head. The practice of mindfulness helps us begin to notice how we live. What is with the body, how lively is it? How do we build relationships? It allows you to direct attention to yourself and the quality of your life. ”
What’s the point?
And if we talk about serenity, then it arises when we learn to notice our emotions. This helps not to be impulsive, not to react to what is happening automatically.
Even if we cannot change the circumstances, we can change our reaction to them and stop being a powerless victim.
“We can choose whether to be more serene or anxious,” the psychologist explains. You can look at the practice of mindfulness and as a way to regain control of your life. We often feel hostages to circumstances that we cannot change, and this gives rise to a sense of our own helplessness.
“Victor Frankl said that there is always a gap between stimulus and reaction. And in this gap is our freedom, ”continues Anastasia Gosteva. – The practice of mindfulness teaches us to create this gap. Even if we cannot change the adverse circumstances, we can change our reaction to them. And then we cease to be a powerless victim and become adults who are able to determine their lives. ”
Where to learn?
Can I learn the practice of mindfulness from books myself? Still, you need to learn with the teacher, the psychologist is sure: “A simple example. In the classroom, I need to build the correct pose for the students. I ask people to relax and straighten their backs. But many remain sitting hunched up, although they themselves are sure that they are sitting with a straight back! These are clips associated with unmanifest emotions that we ourselves do not see. Practice with a teacher provides the necessary view from the outside. ”
Basic techniques can be learned at a one-day workshop. But during independent practice, questions necessarily arise, and it is good when there is someone to ask them. Therefore, it is better to go to 6-8-week programs, where once a week, meeting with the teacher in person, and not in the format of a webinar, you can clarify what remains incomprehensible.
Anastasia Gosteva believes that only coaches who have a psychological, medical or pedagogical education and relevant diplomas should trust. It is also worth finding out whether he has been meditating for a long time, who his teachers are, whether he has a website. You will have to do it yourself regularly.
Meditate for a week, and then a year will not work. “Attention in this sense is like muscle,” says the psychologist. – For sustainable changes in the neural circuits of the brain, you need to meditate every day for 30 minutes. This is just another way of living. ”
About the expert
Anastasia Gosteva – Psychologist, journalist, teacher of meditation and corporate practices of mindfulness.
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