Mindfulness – Can you train your brain to stop and be present?

Mindfulness: I recently found myself talking to my three-year-old daughter about a raisin.  We talked about its colour, did it change colour in different lights, shape, texture, did it make a noise when squeezed, could it in fact be squeezed, what did it taste like – albeit it I lost on the taste as it was eaten so quickly. 🙂

This got me onto thinking how many times do we as adults live in the present moment, really take a step back, are more aware and awake to being engaged in what is happening around us with acceptance and no judgment.  

My daughter was willing to engage in this simple action for nearly 10 minutes before she needed to eat the raisin.  However, for those 10 minutes, we together paid attention, we slowed down, we concentrated, we intentionally brought an open mind and focused on the raisin and nothing else mattered.  Mindfulness. 

So how does mindfulness work?  Mindfulness is considered a mind-body practice because there are both mental and physical benefits. It’s linked to changes in our brain: it increases activity in regions that control stress regulation and decreases activity in regions that control our brain’s stress alarm system.  Studies suggest that by focusing on the present can have a positive impact on health and well-being.  

There is evidence to show that mindfulness can reduce anxiety, depression and increasing evidence is now showing that it can also lower blood pressure and aid in sleep.  

In clinic, alongside lifestyle, diet and exercise, I sometimes talk to patients regarding mindfulness and journaling to help them through a particular point in time.  Acupuncture treatment is not just about a symptom and needles but much more a whole body and whole system therapy.