3 Myths About Mindfulness Meditation That Keep People From Its True Benefits
Mindfulness meditation can be hugely beneficial in our personal and professional lives, but people often leave the practice because their expectations are set unreasonably high.
Rasmus Hougaard, MA, is founder and managing director of the Potential Project, the leading international provider of Corporate-Based Mindfulness Training (CBMT) programs. He is a recognized authority on training the mind to be more focused, effective, and clear in an organizational context. Hougaard has been teaching mindfulness in individual and corporate contexts in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the United States since 2000.
Rasmus Hougaard: There is a general, huge misconception around mindfulness. Many people think that mindfulness is a spiritual thing. Many think that it’s a private thing that we do at home. And most people think that mindfulness is about slowing down. That’s wrong. Mindfulness, in short terms, is really about speeding up our mental processes whereby we can be more effective with whatever we’re doing — that we have this attentional muscle that allows us really to be on task with what we’re doing. So while mindfulness could have a personal benefit, which it certainly has, we do become more happy. We do become more kind. But it also has a real strong business benefit in terms of our performance and productivity going up. Mindfulness, in short, is learning to manage our attention. And according to neuroscience, that is actually very possible. The brain is consisting of a huge neural network that can be rewired by the way that we’re using it. So basically what researchers can see is that the more we pay attention — whatever we pay attention to, but in this case in mindfulness the stronger our, let’s say attentional muscle becomes — it’s right here behind the forehead called the prefrontal cortex. The more we train, the better we become at it. So that’s the short definition of mindfulness. The bit longer definition of mindfulness is to develop the ability to stay focused with what we want to be focused on while still being aware of our bodily experience, being aware of what’s going on around us. So with more mindfulness we are not only becoming more effective in doing the task at hand, but we’re also becoming more effective in noticing what’s going on around us and which things we should be allowing ourselves to be distracted by. And which distractions to leave out of our mind.
So I think one of the big reasons why some people leave their mindfulness practice is because they have the wrong expectations to the practice. When we sit down and close our eyes in the very beginning, lots of thoughts will arise and that’s natural. And when you sit down and do mindfulness practice after practice for maybe 10 weeks or 10 months or 10 years, still many thoughts will arise. So the trick of mindfulness is not to get a total silent, clear, blissful mind. That doesn’t happen. Mindfulness is a practice where we learn to notice our thoughts, let go of the thoughts, and return to the object of choice, which is in practice is the breath.
Before trying mindfulness, know what you're getting into.
Rasmus Hougaard is co-author of the book One Second Ahead: Enhance Your Performance at Work with Mindfulness, as well as a highly regarded mindfulness teacher. In this video, he shares how the practice can be harnessed to improve your business career by re-teaching your brain how to focus.
We all know sleeping with your ex is a bad idea, or is it?
- In the first study of its kind, researchers have found sex with an ex didn't prevent people from getting over their relationship.
- Instead of feeling worse about their breakup after a hookup, the new singles who attempted sexual contact with their ex reported feeling better afterwards.
- The findings suggest that not every piece of relationship advice is to be taken at face value.
Want a happy, satisfying relationship? Psychologists say the best way is to learn to take a joke.
- New research looks at how partners' attitudes toward humor affects the overall quality of a relationship.
- Out of the three basic types of people, people who love to be laughed at made for better partners.
- Fine-tuning your sense of humor might be the secret to a healthy, happy, and committed relationship.
Tiny and efficient, these biodegradable single cells show promise as a way to target hard-to-reach cancers.
- Scientists in Germany have found a potential improvement on the idea of bacteria delivering medicine.
- This kind of microtargeting could be useful in cancer treatments.
- The microswimmers are biodegradable and easy to produce.
Metin Sitti and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute in Germany recently demonstrated that tiny drugs could be attached to individual algae cells and that those algae cells could then be directed through body-like fluid by a magnetic field.
The results were recently published in Advanced Materials, and the paper as a whole offers up a striking portrait of precision and usefulness, perhaps loosely comparable in overall quality to recent work done by The Yale Quantum Institute. It begins by noting that medicine has been attached to bacteria cells before, but bacteria can multiply and end up causing more harm than good.
A potential solution to the problem seems to have been found in an algal cell: the intended object of delivery is given a different electrical charge than the algal cell, which helps attach the object to the cell. The movement of the algae was then tested in 2D and 3D. (The study calls this cell a 'microswimmer.') It would later be found that "3D mean swimming speed of the algal microswimmers increased more than twofold compared to their 2D mean swimming speed." The study continues —
More interestingly, 3D mean swimming speed of the algal microswimmers in the presence of a uniform magnetic field in the x-direction was approximately threefolds higher than their 2D mean swimming speed.
After the 2D and 3D speed of the algal was examined, it was then tested in something made to approximate human fluid, including what they call 'human tubal fluid' (think of the fallopian tubes), plasma, and blood. They then moved to test the compatibility of the microswimmer with cervical cancer cells, ovarian cancer cells, and healthy cells. They found that the microswimmer didn't follow the path of bacteria cells and create something toxic.
The next logical steps from the study include testing this inside a living organism in order to assess the safety of the procedure. Potential future research could include examining how effective this method of drug delivery could be in targeting "diseases in deep body locations," as in, the reproductive and gastrointestinal tracts.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.