Mindfulness is an awareness of the present maintained by paying attention to what ever is occurring moment by moment, non-judgementally, without reaction. Through the development of self observation with compassion in mindfulness meditation one is able to cultivate wisdom and gain insight into the true nature of one’s cognitive reflex or automatic reactive thought processing which maybe leading to unhelpful behaviour. Through the development of mindfulness in meditation one becomes more aware of the habitual thinking patterns of the mind, and the sensations or physical feelings that arise within the body due to the nature of thoughts, feelings or emotions that are present. By developing this self-awareness one is able to break the well-used, but unhelpful neurological thought processing cycles that are occurring within the brain by recognising the nature of events that are taking place within the mind and body. Because one is more aware of what is happening moment by moment, one is better equipped to make a well-informed decision about how one would like to respond respond to a situation rather than reacting unskilfully by reflex. So by practicing mindfulness meditation daily one is actually re-mapping the neural circuitry in the brain which changes the way one thinks, resulting in responding to situations skilfully, leading to a more peaceful and fulfilling life experience.
Although mindfulness seems to be a modern approach for assisting people suffering from a wide range of psychological and physical problems mindfulness meditation actually originates from the teachings of Gautama Buddha in North Eastern India some 2500 to 2600 years ago but it is not a religious practice. It is actually a science because the process consists of definite principles and produces results that can be verified. It is a universal requirement for the well-being of the human mind-body. The Buddha did not teach Buddhism, he taught Dhamma (or Universal Truth), the path to liberation from suffering in which the correct practice of mindfulness is a key feature along with the development of morality.
Lots of research has been carried out over the last few decades in the field of neuroscience using state of the art sophisticated technology to verify the positive effects that mindfulness meditation has to health and well-being. Mindfulness meditation has been scientifically proven to change the physical structure of the brain and the way in which it functions. By practicing meditation every day we are changing the way we think, feel, react, perceive, learn, understand and connect, which has a positive affect on our relationships with everyone and everything around us, and how we approach and apply ourselves to certain tasks or situations, which fundamentally effects our well-being in a profoundly positive way.
Imagine you have to take a regular route through an extremely dense jungle that is very dangerous, but it’s the only way you know how, so you keep on using it. Things have got so bad using this route every day that you can no longer bare it. Despite the commitment that is necessary, you decide to start work on a new pathway through the dense jungle. The more you walk the new and safe path through the jungle the more established and easier it becomes to use. While you are focusing on walking along the new path every day, the old path begins to grow over, and slowly fades away over time. Eventually, if you keep maintaining this new path every day and never go back to the old one, the old path will cease to exist permanently, with out trace, as if it was never there in the first place. This is exactly what happens when you commit to practicing mindfulness meditation every day. It actually re-routes the neural pathways in the brain, altering how signals are produced, sent, and received, allowing you to break old habits, thinking patterns and reflex reactions so you can think and respond differently to any kind of situation providing you with a calm, happy, peaceful and safe journey through the jungle of life.