Have you ever accidentally said “excuse me” to a mannequin or tried to push a door open when the sign says pull? Well, you’re not alone. While being inundated by unending to-do lists, we find ourselves resorting to multitasking to cope with our omnipresent busyness. Unfortunately, stress-enhanced daily encounters often invoke mindlessness, leading to fragmented attention, restlessness, boredom, mind-wandering, impulsive decision-making, over-the-top analysis paralysis, and even tunnel vision.
We seem to acknowledge that this way of living is not sustainable, and people are searching for options to change the way they relate to a demanding life. However, the growing science of wellness and well-being suggests it’s a practice and not an activity or principle.
I had the good fortune of growing up in India and getting exposed to some Eastern contemplative traditions of mindfulness and meditation as a young child. I remember sitting in a room with an oil lamp and trying to concentrate my mind on the flame as a way of building my focus. This sparked a curiosity and longing to explore various forms of meditation and eventually, for more than a decade, I have cultivated my own meditation practice. In 2020, as the pandemic was raging all around the globe, this quest got me to enroll in the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program (MMTCP) led by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield.
Mindfulness refers to the practice of maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment in a non-judgmental way so that we can down-regulate disruptive emotions and free up our brains to think big in an enlightened self-interest way (rather than selfishly). Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Jon Kabat-Zinn says, "Mindfulness is a healing and transformative meditation practice—a way of living our lives as if they really matter by fully inhabiting our moments as best we can throughout the day.”
Contemplative neuroscience shows that when we learn to treat the mind and body as a single unit, we gain enormous control over our health and interpersonal connectivity.
Unlike weightlifting and healthy eating that benefits the person who exercises, mindfulness meditation practices benefit not just the doer, but also those in their orbit.
Sucheta Kamath, an ed-tech entrepreneur, is a founder/CEO of ExQ®, founder of Buckhead Mindfulness Group and professor of practice at the Amrita University in India.