Mindfulness is an awareness of the present maintained by paying attention to one's experience moment by moment, without judgement or 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 impulses or automatic reactive thought processing which maybe leading to un-beneficial behaviour. Through the development of mindfulness in meditation one becomes more aware of their habitual thinking patterns, and the sensations or physical feelings arising throughout the body due to the nature of the thoughts, feelings or emotions that may be present. By developing this self-awareness one is able to break the well-used, and unhelpful neurological thought processing cycles that are occurring within the mind-body by understanding the nature of events that are taking place within the mind and body under moment by moment awareness. Because one is more aware of the internal chain linked cycle of events that continues to unfold moment by moment, one is better equipped to make a wise decision about how one would like to respond to a developing situation rather than reacting unskilfully by reflex without control. So by practicing mindfulness meditation on a daily basis one is actually re-mapping the neural circuitry in the brain which changes the way one thinks, resulting in responding to situations with an insightful and skilful nature, leading to a more peaceful and fulfilling life experience.
Although mindfulness seems to be a modern approach for assisting people experiencing a wide range of psychological and physical problems, the earliest we can actually trace mindfulness meditation back to is the awakening of the most recent Buddha (Siddhārtha Gotama) in North Eastern India some 2500 to 2600 years ago. But this does not mean that meditation is a religious practice in the concept of how we define religion in the west today. It is actually a spiritual science because the process consists of definite principles and produces results that can be measured and verified. It is a universal requirement for the well-being of human beings. The Buddha did not teach Buddhism, or say that one should label oneself a Buddhist. He re-discovered the universal laws that had been long lost to mankind of which all sentient beings are subject to. By realising this knowledge through his own direct experiences he was fully equipped with the wisdom and knowledge to teach the path to purification, resulting in the liberation from suffering.
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 the health and well-being of all human beings. 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 able to change the way we perceive and respond to things which has a positive affect on the way we interact with everyone and everything around us. This changes the way we in which we approach and apply ourselves to the wide variety of situations we will most definitely experience throughout duration of our lifetimes. This results in a fundamental change to our well-being, manifesting itself 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.