Mindfulness is the awareness of the present moment – it is the practice of paying attention to the details of the moment. We all naturally and automatically spend most of our time, mentally and emotionally, in either the past or the future.
If you start to become aware of what you’re thinking in any specific moment, you will notice that you are very seldom in the present moment. The benefits of Mindfulness are becoming increasingly widely recognized by science, with more and more research and scientific studies aimed at discovering the effects of mindfulness on the brain and body.
The Effects of Mindfulness on the Brain
The practice of focusing attention on the present moment – both to aspects of the environment and surroundings, current actions, and internal awareness of thoughts and feelings has been found to increase the activity of the left prefrontal cortex of the brain.
The left prefrontal cortex is associated with happiness and other positive emotional states while the right prefrontal cortex is associated with negative emotions. Research into brain activity during mindfulness, the left prefrontal cortex becomes more active and the activity in the right reduces.
Contrary to the information originally shared by science, today’s neuroscientists have discovered that not only is the brain not permanently wired; it is constantly changing in structure. The ability of the brain to change throughout a person’s life is called neuroplasticity, and it happens every time a new thought or idea occurs. Thoughts that are repeated form set structures in the neocortex of the brain – resulting in automatic behaviors and thinking.
Most of our time is spent using these neural pathways. 95% of our actions, decisions, communication and other processes are unconscious, using existing neural pathways and networks. When we become fully conscious and aware in the moment, we make new connections.
If the new activity is repeated, it will also eventually become a more permanent connection – which will then allow the activity to become unconscious. When a particular pathway is no longer used, it begins to atrophy and disconnect. This means that when we become aware of the current moment, and aware of what we’re thinking and feeling in that moment, the neocortex of the brain is literally restructuring.
Becoming Aware of Being Aware
One of the benefits of being human is the ability to become an observer of ourselves. We are able to become aware of what we’re thinking and feeling in the moment. This is called metacognition, and it increases as it is used. In other words, a person who starts to notice how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking in the moment will find that ability increasing over time.
The more aware they become of being aware, the more aware they become. Metacognition also changes the structure of the brain. Each time it is used, a new connection is made in the neocortex.
The Chemical Reaction
One of the ways in which mindfulness helps to reduce stress in the body is the change in the chemical state. The body follows the mind because as a connection is made in the neocortex (a thought) the limbic system is prompted to automatically trigger the major organs of the body to produce the matching chemicals that cause the sensations we recognize as emotions.
Using mindfulness and metacognition to become aware of the current moment reduces the amount of stress chemicals in the body, and increases the levels of endorphins and other “feel good” hormones.
The switch in focus from the usual stressors (past or future focus) to the present moment is achieved by switching from the well-worn old connections in the neocortex that allow for automatic thought and actions, to a new connection. As a result of this, the limbic system switches from producing the stress chemicals associated with the old neural connections, to chemicals that match the new connection. This causes a reduction in feelings of stress and anxiety, and a calmer overall sensation.
So, What’s the Problem with Mindfulness?
When can mindfulness be more harmful than helpful? When it’s a distraction. Although mindfulness can reduce the feelings of stress, and help you to feel more calm and happy in the moment, it does not address the causes of the stress.
When used to avoid the issues and problems, mindfulness becomes an effective accomplice to burying the bodies of your “bad stuff”. And the main problem with that is: they’re buried inside you – which means they still affect you in the background.
You’re still carrying them around. It’s important to address the cause of the issues, and make the changes that lead to ongoing positive results; and use mindfulness as an extra bonus, after clearing the cause, rather than using it to bury your emotions and worries. Buried emotions simply come back in other ways because they’re buried inside you, so you take them with you wherever you go.
Mindfulness and FasterEFT
Although mindfulness helps to create more peace, calm and happiness in the moment, there is another important role this practice can play in creating long-term happiness, health and healing. Using metacognition and mindfulness to become aware of what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling in the moment can enable you to notice things that are bothering you, and help you in the aiming aspect of FasterEFT.
Coming out of the trance that causes you to continue reacting and responding to triggers on automatic, becoming aware in the moment will mean you can address the original records, using the FasterEFT technique. And that will allow you to free yourself from the patterns, issues and problems themselves, by changing the cause.
For example, let’s say you’re going about your day when you remember to be mindful. So, as you walk back to work after lunch, you start to become aware of how you’re feeling in that moment; and you notice you’re feeling stressed. Now, with regular mindfulness practice, you would simply notice that feeling, without judgement, and then move onto noticing what else is happening in the moment – the feeling of your feet in your shoes as they meet the sidewalk; everything you can see, hear, smell, taste and feel in this moment.
This is how mindfulness can be a distraction rather than a benefit. However, if you start to become mindful only of what’s happening inside you – how you’re feeling, where you’re feeling it, and how strong it is – and then use the FasterEFT technique to tap out that feeling and any memories or thoughts connected to it, then you will be clearing the original cause of the negative emotions, rather than burying them.
Once you have flipped those feelings and memories, then using mindfulness to appreciate your surroundings and this present moment, increasing your feelings of joy, is a wonderful bonus – without the negative side-effect of burying the bad stuff deeper.
To find out more about how FasterEFT works, and why it’s effective, visit: The FasterEFT System.
For step-by-step guidance on using the technique, read: The FasterEFT Technique – Step-by-Step.
To watch videos on FasterEFT visit the FasterEFT YouTube Channel.