Mindfulness is in vogue. We hear phrases like “just breathe”. Yoga pants sell at over $100. Once reserved for parks in China, Tai Chi classes dot the US landscape. Aetna’s CEO, Mark Bertolini, has found mindfulness improves his productivity as well as Aetna’s workforce. Perhaps we should pause, just a moment, and consider being present.
When you have a full schedule, multitasking might seem like the best way to finish your endless to-do list.
But the brain actually benefits from focusing on one activity at a time.
When you commit to training your attention and exerting control over your mind, you’re practicing mindfulness. While it has become a popular psychotherapy technique, mindfulness originated in Buddhism over 2,000 years ago.
The idea of mindfulness is that life should be lived in the present moment. In addition to improving your focus, the practice can bring stress and insomnia relief, and pain reduction.
What Is Being Present?
It’s great to see research on how being present may benefit brain health. Such research may help those who need a scientific explanation. However, there may be more to being present than which areas of the brain light up. There is certainly enough risk / reward that putting a mindfulness practice in your day is worthwhile. Worst case is you tried to relax for 10 minutes. But perhaps you decrease stress and gain a little focus.
Sometimes it is intriguing to go to an original source and see where it fits in your mindfulness practice. Here is a pertinent chapter from the Tao Te Ching (or Daodejing, Dao De Jing) by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. Enjoy….
Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – chapter 16
Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind rest at peace.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
The way of nature is unchanging.
Knowing constancy is insight.
Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.
Knowing constancy, the mind is open.
With an open mind, you will be openhearted.
Being openhearted, you will act royally.
Being royal, you will attain the divine.
Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.
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