Students will learn how and why Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity work as well as a practical exercise that may be applied in common, everyday situations.
Welcome back in this lesson we will begin by discussing the meaning of mindfulness and its practical application. So let's get to it. What is mindfulness. Let's begin by just flat out defining it. If you look up mindfulness in the Internet you will get thousands of definitions so very shallow and literal and so filled with fantastic and even mythical and magical connotations. So let's try to keep it simple and concise. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines mindfulness as the practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts emotions or experiences on a moment to moment basis and that great mindfulness master Jon Kabat-Zinn in his wonderful book Mindfulness for beginners defines it as paying attention in a particular way on purpose. In the present moment and non-towered mentally as you can see both definitions are quite similar and share the basic most important concepts. So let's try to break it down. First of all we get a sense that it is a practice. What this means is that it is an ability that needs to be developed as we will see in upcoming lectures. We are trying to teach the brain something that is beyond its innate evolutionary capacity. We are not born with the ability to be mindful and there is no magic red pill that we can take in order to find out how deep the rabbit hole goes. Or in this case that will instantly make us mindful him in order to be able to reap its benefits. You need to train constantly just as if you wanted to master and other abilities such as playing guitar learn a new language or get good at any sport. Nothing will happen if you just buy the guitar and have it sit in your lap. You need to take lessons and practice. The good news is that I will not ask you to practice for 4 hours a day. All you need is a couple of minutes every couple of hours and your life will change. The second part of the definition asks us to maintain a state of complete awareness of our thoughts emotions and mental experiences. This basically means that while practicing our attention should be focused on our minds what we are trying to do here is to establish a certain distance between us and our mind so that we begin to realize what happens if we let the mind lose. What really helps me to achieve this is when I practice I begin its session by mentally challenging myself and thinking Well mind. Let's see what you are up to. This helps me create the distance required from my mind and me. The passive onlooking observer within mindfulness circles. We are advised to look at the mind as if we were watching kids play at the park let loose but don't lose focus this inward attention takes us to that next point. Maintaining non-church mental state we love concepts and judgements. When we were in our mothers wombs we began telling ourselves this is good this is bad or I like this and I don't like that we behave like that obviously since our brain from its very creation desperately wants to avoid the bad and get more from the good. In mindfulness we are trying to train our minds and to do this we must first get to know how it works. Once we have established our distance from our minds we begin to notice that it kind of has a life of its own thoughts feelings and emotions are constantly and almost randomly and arbitrarily showing up. Using the distance we created from our minds we can notice how one moment we are happy then we are worried. Then we remember something from the past. We are happy again. Then we are sad then angry etc.. You get the point. The thing about thoughts feelings and emotions is that since they are constructed by the mind the mind can also control them. How do we control them by not judging them. If for example a negative thought comes up and we think oh this is bad we will begin to try and solve or justify it and we begin creating a drama by generating new thoughts on possible outcomes. We lose focus and we get stressed. For example we may think that I leave the window up. This made me to us thinking what if it rains which then needs to. I'll have to mop up and then I need to buy a new mop followed by the supermarket is so full at this hour and maybe I should go to that other one but it's so far away. Do I have enough gas. My car needs an oil change and so on. I hope you get the point of how a simple thought which may have been solved by getting up and checking the window has turned into a mental soap opera. In order to avoid this while practicing We have to keep in mind that nothing that comes up during our sessions is good or bad it just is we see it and we release it. What helps me maintain this mental state is responding to anything that may surface during my practice whether or not right now or. Good to know. I'll deal with you later. And gently returning my focus to the present moment. Once we have caught our mind trying to escape and we have kept it from wandering into a new drama we bring it back to the here and now and we are able to keep focused and we get to be in the famous present moment that is so sad. After all life improvement techniques. The thing about the present moment. The Here and Now is that the main course is for the most serious ailment that troubles the modern mind which is stress is cost mainly by the past. When we feel nostalgic and want the best event to happen again or fearful that it may repeat itself or the future when we feel anxious about an uncertain event that is coming up it may be that we are getting that we are afraid of not making a payment getting sick or anything else. As I said we will talk more about the present moment later on. But for now the most important thing I want you to consider is the ability of returning to focus that the mind has. This is the most important aspect of the practice. The ability to catch the mind as it begins to wander and being capable to stop it and return. Many of my students when finishing up a session told me Salvatore this was a bad session. I had to bring my mind back so many times. First of all there is no bad meditation session just the fact that you are trying makes it a good session no matter what else happens. Also you have to think of returning as a rep you do in a gym. You cut the mind from wandering. You were able to stop it from getting out of control and you had the ability to gently return. That is one wrap what you are doing is bulking up your brain specifically the connections between neurons that are called Cynapsus which in time will allow you to behave and react differently. In other words the more you return the more reps you did and in time you will begin to need less and less returns. Which is the main goal of mindfulness to finish this lecture. I want to some things up by letting you know what all this means and how it will change your life from a practical perspective. By training our mind to respond to us we are able to control it. And this translates in the subtle appearance of a pause between our thoughts and our reactions. Once we have trained enough our mind gets used to returning. Which means that when a thought arises in our day to day before we act or react it will return and give us that pass that pass will give us time to balance out all the reactions possible that are available and allow us to choose the best one. This causes our behavior to reduce its impulsiveness and therefore modulate our stress activation response. We get to choose when to get stressed and when to stop. Finally from a social standpoint when we regulate or respond a response and we take our emotions and become more conscious and aware of our actions our social behavior changes and creates the cascade effect that allows those who come in contact with us to lower their guards and their defensiveness. We break that impulsive impulsive cycle in the next section we will begin to look at what the practices do to our brain and we will see in both technical and practical ways how neuroplasticity aid us in developing their a better version of ourselves. See you there.