Mindfulness Exercises

Mindfulness exercises can add value to everything you do. The practice activates RB, the rational brain, residing in your prefrontal regions. It focuses your attention on becoming self aware.

The heightened activation of RB dampens neural activity in the amygdala, the primary wellspring of fear and anger. The process calms your agitations and detaches you from destructive emotions - the temperamental monkey, which fidgets on your back.

Your mind becomes quieter. Mindfulness exercises also focus single-mindedly on improving your daily routines. By focusing on this inherently rewarding objective, your mind becomes more focused and energetic. You begin to live actively “in the now.”

  • Mindfulness exercises take control of the mind through methodical observation.
  • The exercise enables RB, your common sense, to take charge of your mind.
  • RB is your highest prefrontal intelligence, which competes with its mammalian and reptilian counterparts.
  • The attention of RB stills the activities of the lower level animal intelligences.
  • Mindfulness enables a durable and ongoing control of your mind by RB, in its ceaseless competition with lower intelligences.
  • “Living In The Moment” can be made practical, enabling you to focus on your current activity.
  • Practical steps for Mindfulness Exercises and Mindfulness Living.

Mindfulness Exercises - One Of Two Types Of Meditation
For over 5000 years, the benefits of meditation have been heralded by many world religions. Meditation has enabled people to achieve a higher state of consciousness, greater focus, creativity, self-awareness and a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind. There are two main modes of meditation. The first, pure meditation, focuses the mind on a single word or object, stilling thoughts within a subconscious process and has been proved to have significant medical benefits. The second, the mindfulness method of meditation, takes control of the mind through methodical observation.

Mindfulness Exercises - Enable Common Sense
Mindfulness exercises enable RB to take charge of your life. The process muffles emotional upsurges. Over the years, the exercises make your approach to problems more and more rational. Your views resemble a computer statement, which is neither angry, nor sad, but just lists facts. This experience is in keeping with the Buddhist description of the outcome of mindfulness meditation: “You will not see something is good or bad, whether it is a beautiful picture or a very ugly picture, a sweet sound or an ugly sound. When you act like this, your mind will stay calm.” But, your objective is really not to see the world from a cold, rational perspective. As the primitive attacks of fear, resentment or anger reduce, you will find that joy and wonder form your normal pattern recognition responses to the splendor of life all around you.

Mindfulness Exercises - The Background Of Your Turmoil
Your triune brain is an assembly of increasingly advanced intelligences, assembled over time by evolution. An early reptilian network caused the system to consume, or reject food, based on an evaluation of smells. Later, nature added event recognition systems. The possibility of disagreeable events triggered fearful, or angry responses. A subsequent mammalian brain triggered social emotions like jealousy, or guilt adding even more decision options. Your brain evaluates myriad such options in making its decisions.

The clamor of these lower animal brains normally tend to capture control and trouble your mind. Such responses have become irrelevant in the modern world. The responses of an animal to a tiger in the vicinity are unsuitable for meeting a career threat. We don't need to respond this way. Luckily, we have the option to utilize RB, the recent human level intelligence, in the prefrontal regions. It is an immensely wise and rational evaluation system. Mindfulness exercises are simple routines, which enable RB to take increasing charge of your life.

Mindfulness Exercises - Attention Is The Key To RB Control
Attention is primarily an activity of RB, the prefrontal region. Focused attention stills unrelated neural activity. When your attention focuses on your toe, the touch sensory neurons in your toe will fire more rapidly and still the neighboring neurons. Increased firing makes you aware of the pressure of your shoe on your toe.

Maunsell reported that, in tests on monkeys, focused attention causes the related neural signals to respond more strongly, while signals from neighboring neurons become attenuated. The mindfulnesses exercises systematically focus RB attention to still the irrational messages from lower level intelligences. The results are amazing. RB, your precious common sense, discovers its unique independence from its lower levels. You are freed from the pain of troubling emotional interpretations of your world. The Buddhists suggest that you can observe your problems like a “watching a bird in the sky.”

Mindfulness Exercises - Retain RB Control To Perfect Your Life
Paul Eckman, the famous emotions scientist said, "We become aware a quarter, or half second after the emotion begins. I do not choose to have an emotion, to become afraid, or to become angry. I am suddenly angry. I can usually figure out later what someone did that caused the emotion." Fear, guilt, anger or shame takes possession and troubles the human mind virtually every living moment. Mindfulness exercises seek to free you completely from control by these subconscious events. Each individual is, usually, the habitual victim of only a few of these emotions. These exercises can quiet such feelings fairly quickly. Continued mindfulness exercises enable the quiet RB common sense control to bring focused excellence to everything they do.

Mindfulness Exercises - True “Living In The Moment” Absurd
There are people, who can multi-task - talk on the phone, while watching pans on three burners. For them, attention switches continuously from task to task. The average person can only focus attention on a single thing. When you becomes aware of the pressure on your toes, you cannot also pay attention to the breeze on your shoulder. Teachings on “Living In The Moment” appear to suggest an ability to become aware of the whole universe around you. You cannot possibly focus your attention on everything around you in the same moment. While fully “living in the now” sounds absurd, focusing on a single activity is practical.

Mindfulness Exercises - Focus On Your Current Action
Time study of production lines follows this concept. In time study, you take a single operation like the assembly of an electric toaster and analyze it down to its tiniest detail. The process can shave off minutes from assembly line time schedules. Clearly define an event and study it. Focus on “sitting down,” or “brushing your teeth.” Try and do it with the least strain on your muscles, in smooth easy movements. When you focus your attention on what you are doing, your whole body absorbs the process and keeps inventing new ways of improving your performance. The physical complexity of the small things you do will amaze you. Your mind will be continually rewarded by the pleasure of small achievements.

Mindfulness Exercises - The Rewards Of Novelty
Professor Wolfram Schultz discovered that reward oriented behavior is promoted by the release of a group of neurotransmitters by neurons in the early reptilian part (in the approach or withdraw mechanism) of the human brain. These neurons detect signals in the environment, which indicate the possibility of a reward within a specific time frame. They release the neuro transmitter dopamine in the forebrain. Increased dopamine strengthens its activity, bringing clarity to objectives. The flood of dopamine makes a person feel more energetic and elated. It is not the reward, but the expectation of a reward, which releases dopamine. Its levels rise even if your objective is something as simple as wanting to cross the road.

Nature times the induction of energy, timing it precisely to be sufficient to achieve desired objectives. Schultz recorded the timed release of dopamine by these neurons. He noted that the release increases, if the reward is greater than what is expected. It continues only for the predicted time period, when a reward can be expected. The release reduces at the end of this period. The releases stop if the rewards have become a matter of routine. Your mind works better in expectation of a reward. It improves if the reward is more than expected. It becomes dull if you are just following a routine every day.

Freshness and creativity are needed for vitality. Mindfulness exercises create rewards by focusing your mind on the novelty and the creative potential of the life around you. By focusing attention, your mind becomes engrossed in the infinite variety in the simple things you do. Mindfulness exercises bring energy and focus into ordinary day to day living.

Mindfulness Exercises
The following exercises increase your self awareness and enable your RB to take increasing charge of your mind:

  1. Become aware of your sensory perceptions. Sit, or lie quietly and listen to the sounds around you, the feeling of the breeze and the faint aromas in the air.
  2. Become aware of your bodily messages. Lie down and become aware of any tension in your muscles. Close your eyes and recognize how your body informs you of the position of your limbs on the bed. Become aware of how you breathe in and out.
  3. Observe your thoughts. The objective is to differentiate yourself from messages from lower level intelligences. You will be able to identify distinctly independent “voices.” Experienced practitioners “let go” of a thought. The secret is not to become emotionally involved. Emotional involvement carries you into the problem. “Letting go” is mere acknowledgement of the problem. Not “Oh, God! What will I do?” But, “Houston, we have a problem.”
  4. Recognize your emotions. “What do I feel now?” After you have built up experience in observing your thoughts, you will begin to see the difference between neutral observation and emotional involvement. Involvement carries you along with the thought, in a mental effort to solve a problem. The frustration of such problem solving efforts will intensify the emotion and entrap you in repeating cycles. Success comes in being able to say “I feel despair.” Identification of the emotion separates RB from the problem.
  5. Recognize the physical symptoms of your emotions. Emotions drive you to achieve specific objectives. In the process, they prepare your body for the fight, or flight responses - increased heart rate, sweating, tension in muscles, knots in your stomach. These changes intensify the emotion and suck you into a negative level of consciousness. With a little practice, you can learn to recognize these symptoms.

    Eugene Gendlin discovered the beneficial effects of recognizing this “Felt sense.” When you recognize the symptom as being independent of the emotion, the emotion will “switch off.” You will end up with a surprisingly peaceful state of mind - your RB level of consciousness. Subsequently, it will become easier for you to recognize the next outburst of the same emotion. Gradually, this troubling emotion will be firmly stilled for you. Most people are troubled by only a few habitual patterns of negative emotions. Recognition of their symptoms will slowly transport you into a permanent RB level of consciousness, where simple common sense rules your mind.
  6. Recognize the RB level of consciousness. You will almost “miss” the attacks of guilt and shame, or dread and despair, which occupied much of your life. Become aware that this is the true natural state of your mind. It is a condition, which is free of tension and pressure, contemplating the world with a simple stillness. It will take time for you to become convinced that this is a fundamentally stable state of your mind. Acknowledgement and affirmation of this state will change the quality of your life. Now is the time to extend mindfulness into every part of your life.

Mindfulness Living
The average person may spend his time in one of six focus areas - sleep, human interaction, daily routines, meditation, problem solving and entertainment/satisfying curiosity. You sleep, interact with family, friends and colleagues, brush your teeth and eat your food, solve problems in the office, watch movies and read books. During all these activities, even if your mind is free of the “existential chatter” of negative emotions, many thoughts will still wander in. Memories from the past, problems of the world and hopes for the future will distract you from your focus areas. Mindfulness exercises can free you from this distraction, help you to powerfully concentrate on “the now” and improve the quality of your life:

  1. Sleep. Before you go to sleep, instead of allowing your mind to wander over the day’s concerns, direct your attention to yourbreathing. Still your mind well ahead of your sleep time, have enough exercise to feel tired enough and drop quickly into sleep.
  2. In your interactions with people, focus and act with love and compassion. Free from negative emotions, your relations with people will improve dramatically.
  3. Become mindful and focus, when you brush your teeth, have breakfast and commute to work. During meals, don't just bite off and swallow chunks of food. Chew each mouthful. Chewing mixes the food particles with saliva and transports them to the 10,000 taste buds located around the edges of your tongue and the roof of your mouth. As you chew, the molecules will waft the aroma up into your nose. Experience and differentiate the infinite variations of the basic tastes - sweet, salty, sour, savory and bitter. For every activity, your attention will improve skills, still your turmoil and add value to each living moment.
  4. Focus on each aspect of your work in office. Mentally defining your next task will enable focus. Pay attention to the job and to your customer. Your attention will reward you immensely with improved performance and satisfaction. Doing whatever you do the best way it can be done is the essential road to happiness.
  5. Even while you remain fully focused on your daily life, there will be moments of forced waiting - at a traffic light, for a phone call, or for the arrival of a guest. Use those moments! Relax your body and still your thoughts. Enjoy those periods of quiet contemplation. You will find that you are more calm and composed with such mindful interludes.
  6. When you have freed your mind from domination by emotions and focus intensely on mindfulness living, your mind will be free to enjoy the movies you watch and the books you read.

Mindfulness Exercises Bring You Joy
The objective of mindfulness exercises is to live life fully, without being distracted by guilt from the past, anger about the present, or fears of the future. Those exercises make you pay attention to your mind, identify and subdue the negative foibles of your mind. These were contributed by your troubling experiences, or inherited from an animal past. They can happily be left behind. As the best contribution of this process, you will recognize the feelings of joy which literally fire in your brain, when you watch a sunset, or do your work well. The ultimate joy of mindfulness exercises was uncovered by wise men from a distant past. Civilization owes them a deep debt of gratitude.

This page was last updated on 01-Jan-2014



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