Mindfully yours. On building presence for the here and now.

I love this time of year. There is a sense of anticipation of celebration and a coming together of friends, family and colleagues. I think I get to go to more joint breakfasts, lunches and dinners in the few weeks leading up to Christmas than over the rest of the year!

But what I have been hearing at some of these events, is the same complaint: people are saying just how tired they are. They can’t wait to stop. They can’t wait for Christmas to be over and they are just simply tired of how tired they are feeling, that is, exhausted and stressed.

Is this how you are feeling too?

So what is it that is causing so many of us to be feeling this way?
Why are we so tired?
And why are we wanting to hurry up to get past a traditional time when families and friends come together to spend time with those who mean the most to them?

Perhaps it is a reflection of our society, a society that seems hell bent on working itself into a frenzy of continuous stress and the associated anxiety and unhappiness.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

I first came across Dr. Jeffery Schwartz a couple of years ago whilst researching the area of the neuroscience of mindfulness.
He works as a research Psychiatrist at UCLA and became well known for his work in self-directed neuroplasticity, where using PET scans he was able to demonstrate how the activity in specific neural pathways could be altered in those people with the condition of obsessive-compulsive disorder. He subsequently developed a four-step process of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which he published in his book “You Are Not Your Brain”.

His current area of interest now lies in examining the role of meditation in enhancing mindful awareness and its effect on mind body relations.

Mindfulness is a form of meditative practice that is non-secular and has been practiced for thousands of years. The benefits of mindfulness for calming the brain are well known and more recently mindfulness has been enjoying resurgence in the number of people practicing the technique on a regular basis. It is being increasingly incorporated in wellness programs, as businesses have recognised the benefit mindfulness produces, enhancing well-being, work efficiency and engagement.

On a personal level I have found mindfulness an invaluable tool to calm my ever-chattering mind and tendency towards anxiety. In addition I have found teaching mindfulness meditation enormously rewarding when seeing how others enjoy the rewards the practice brings.

Several neuroimaging studies have shown that mindfulness can produce a physiological change in the brain in as little as 8 weeks, with an increase in cortical density in the prefrontal cortex and other areas associated with learning and memory. This is neuroplasticity in action, helping our brains to function better.

So if you are one of those who just can’t wait for the end of the year and will be plunging headlong straight into 2014, mindfulness may be something that could be of use to you.

Regular practitioners report that not only do they enjoy a greater sense of calmness, they are more focused, they are more efficient in getting tasks completed, they enjoy a greater feeling of wellbeing, they sleep better too

The benefits are plentiful, the effects quick to produce in just a few weeks and all it takes is 10 minutes or so of regular daily practice.

We are very fortunate in that Dr. Schwartz will be visiting Australia in March 2014 and is presenting at UWA Extension on March 18th. I urge you to consider buying a ticket to come and hear him speak.

He is also taking part in two very special events in March in Perth and Melbourne in March

And yes, I too am looking forward to winding down, to sharing great time with friends and family and am very excited about the new programs, presentations and keynotes I have in store for you for 2014. I shall be posting these out early in the New Year.

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