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: 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.

There never was a male fertility crisis

A new study suggests that reports of the impending infertility of the human male are greatly exaggerated.

Sex & Relationships
  • A new review of a famous study on declining sperm counts finds several flaws.
  • The old report makes unfounded assumptions, has faulty data, and tends toward panic.
  • The new report does not rule out that sperm counts are going down, only that this could be quite normal.
Keep reading Show less

Over 40% of workers are considering quitting their jobs

A year of disruptions to work has contributed to mass burnout.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Junior members of the workforce, including Generation Z, are facing digital burnout.
  • 41 percent of workers globally are thinking about handing in their notice, according to a new Microsoft survey.
  • A hybrid blend of in-person and remote work could help maintain a sense of balance – but bosses need to do more.
Keep reading Show less

These 1,000 hexagons show how global wealth is distributed

A cartogram makes it easy to compare regional and national GDPs at a glance.

Credit: BerryBlue_BlueBerry, reproduced with kind permission
Strange Maps
  • On these maps, each hexagon represents one-thousandth of the world's economy.
  • That makes it easy to compare the GDP of regions and nations across the globe.
  • There are versions for nominal GDP and GDP adjusted for purchasing power.
Keep reading Show less

Modular construction: Using Lego-like blocks to build structures of the future

Buildings don't have to be permanent — modular construction can make them modifiable and relocatable.

Freethink
Technology & Innovation
  • Modular construction involves building the components of a habitable structure in a factory, and then assembling those components on-site.
  • The history of modular construction stretches back centuries, and it became briefly popular in the U.S. after World War II, but it's never quite caught on.
  • Construction firms like iMod Structures, which constructs buildings that can be modified and relocated, may soon change that.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast