The Science behind Living the Moment or Mindfulness
Imagine yourself sitting in front of your desk writing your “To-Do List” for the next day when you noticed that you’re doing the same exact things you did yesterday and today. It feels like a repetitive cycle where life doesn’t seem to be as fun as it used to be especially during this time of the pandemic where life seems to be monotonous every day. You wake up, wash up, feed the dogs, take the dogs out, eat breakfast, open your laptop, work online, eat lunch, do chores, eat dinner, wash up, and sleep. It feels suffocating to know how boring your everyday life seems to be and feeling anxious about what your life is right now stressing you out but a simple mindfulness exercise would help you feel a lot better about your simple everyday tasks.
Everyone has the ability to be mindful, we just have to know how we can access it. Mindfulness is all about being able to be in the moment --- to be fully aware of what you’re doing, where you are, and what you’re feeling. With this, you’ll feel less reactive and overwhelmed by your surroundings. Let’s connect this to feeding your dog in the morning. It may seem like an ordinary thing to do but being mindful in this moment would help you focus on just this situation. Pay attention to the brand of dog food you gave, why you chose it, how your dog looks while he’s eating, or how happy he looks while eating makes you feel. Your mind is so engrossed in the situation, you wouldn’t be distracted by other thoughts --- making you calmer and more appreciative of the situation. It’s so weird that something so ordinary feels so special at that moment.
So, how does science explain this? Researches used MRI scans to find evidence and examine the changes in the brain when mindfulness is practiced. When we’re under stress, practicing mindfulness would make the grey matter in the brain’s amygdala smaller, therefore, making your brain less susceptible to stress. When it comes to being creative, practicing mindfulness would thicken the grey matter in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain --- an area known to be responsible for controlling emotions, planning, and solving problems thus, allows for more productivity in this area of thought. Furthermore, mindfulness can also thicken the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
Mindfulness doesn’t only affect the brain but also the whole body because they work together as a whole thing. This is why it’s important to know that our well-being is greatly affected by mindfulness. It has the ability to let us savor the pleasures of life and appreciate them. It helps us to be in that exact moment and fully focus on it, therefore, making it easier for us to deal with the unforeseeable. Taking care of our well-being also means positively affecting our physical and mental health. Mindfulness, scientifically proven, reduces stress thus, this eventually leads to lower blood pressure, improvement in sleep, reduced chronic pain, solves heart diseases, and helps treat gastrointestinal
problems. But most importantly since stress is also responsible for several mental health challenges, it helps solve depression, eating disorders, anxiety, OCD, and substance abuse.
In a nutshell, mindfulness has proven to be an effective technique to live with. It helps us create a more suitable environment for our minds and our bodies, facing life with a calmer and positive attitude.
Moriah Chavez and Vipasha Balani