002 – The Benefits of Mindfulness – Part 1
Describes benefits 1-4, from the 18 benefits of mindfulness. More content on benefits to follow in future podcasts.
- Benefit 1 – Improves concentration and memory
- When your mind’s more peaceful rather than being lost in thought and distracted, it’s much easier to concentrate
- If you stay mindful you’re going to commit more content in to memory, and you’re going be much better placed to recall that content efficiently when you need it
- Benefit 2 – Enhances positivity
- Positivity comes from seeing clearly, and comes from understanding the truth, and comes from having wisdom and perspective. Positivity also comes from kindness. Mindfulness enables all of these things.
- Benefit 3 – Reduces stress and anxiety through cultivating calmness
- Benefit 4 – Quietens a busy mind
- If you’re doing what you need to be doing, you’re following your purpose, you’re being kind, and you’re being skilful, then mindful states will follow
Full transcript from podcast
Hello and welcome to the Mindfulness+ Podcast. My name is Darren Cockburn and the website address for the podcasts is www.mindfulnesonlinetraining.org. This podcast is going to be about the benefits of mindfulness. As I mentioned in the first podcast, it’s really helpful to understand these benefits and to remember them, because it gives you faith in practicing. It gives you faith in changing your life conditions and doing things to cultivate more mindfulness, if you can be aware of the multitude of benefits that are available.
I’m going to go through eighteen different benefits that I know about from what I’ve read, what’s been proven scientifically, and also for many of them, what I have experienced myself.
I was thinking before recording this podcast about how can I do something that’s clever to make this podcast more interesting and relatable and engaging; rather than just going through a list of eighteen points. I couldn’t really come up with an answer to that. I don’t know what that tells you. So my intention is just to go through and cover each point with you. Hopefully you’ll find it interesting and what I will do is I will share my own experiences as I talk through these benefits to bring some colour into what could be quite a long list.
Anyway, let’s make a start. Why do we practice mindfulness? Point number one, and by the way, these aren’t in any list of priority or importance. They’re just in a list. Although the last one is particularly important – we’ll come back to that.
Benefit number one is improved concentration and memory. Let’s take each of these separately because there’s actually two benefits in a single point here. I’ve grouped them together. The concentration – when your mind is more peaceful rather than being lost in thought and distracted, it’s much easier to concentrate, it’s much easier to focus on one thing. Maybe an activity or it could be the concentration say on your breath in meditation. Or you might be looking at something and concentrating on something in that way.
We need concentration in order to do our activities. When we do our activities and when we do things in a concentrated way, what we tend to find is that the quality of what we do is much higher because it’s got that concentration and mindfulness integrated into it. Which is why when people produce things and they’re concentrated when they produce them, the quality of what they produce is much higher. When the mind is busy, when we’re not grounded in our direct experience, when our mind is creating stories and going into the past and the future it’s being distracted a lot so it makes it very difficult to do what sometimes is something that’s quite simple – to do it well.
As I said just now it’s very very enjoyable, can be very enjoyable when you concentrate on things and you’ve probably found that yourself. Mindfulness helps with concentration. It also helps with memory. You can break that into two parts: Firstly let’s just use the example of remembering what somebody’s told you OK. There are lots of examples of committing things to memory, but let’s just take that one as an example. If someone is talking to you; if you’re lost in your thoughts, it’s going to be harder to take the content of what the person has just said to you, and commit it to memory. It’s like there’s this veil of thought and there’s the thought and the chatter in the mind, or being lost in your emotions even, that gets in the way of being able to take some content and very neatly commit it to your memory.
If you’re completely lost in thought what you can find is that the content will just – it’s like it just bounces off. If someone’s told you something and it’s as though you’ve not even heard them, you have heard them, but your mind was so busy you’ve not committed what they’ve told you to memory. That’s one example. Another example and a classic example that people use often is that they’ve been driving along and they can’t remember where they’ve been driving for the last five or ten minutes because they’ve been lost in thought. Stimulus has been coming in from the surroundings, but they’ve not been able to commit it to memory.
It’s not just about committing contents that you experience to your memory – when you’re mindful, it also helps you to be able to recall the content that you’ve committed. I use an analogy here of a lake. If you’re wanting to get a stone out of the lake and the stone is at the bottom of the lake – if the lake is busy and disrupted, and there are ripples and waves and things on it, you won’t be able to see the stone at the bottom of the lake. It will be really hard to be able to put your hand in, know where the stone is and then take the stone out. When the lake is completely still, you can see the stone that you want to get and then just put your hand into the lake directly to the stone, and then retrieve the stone.
The mind works in the same way. The stone in the little example that I just given you represents some content in your memory. The surface of the lake represents your mind. When the lake is still that is when your mind’s peaceful, when you’re mindful, so it’s easier to get content from the memory. And when the lake is disrupted in some way, the surface of the lake, that represents the busy mind. Can you see because of these two things that if you stay mindful you’re going to commit more content in a more efficient tidy way to memory, and you’re going be much better placed to recall that content efficiently when you need it. OK so that’s point number one.
I’m just conscious that I’ve already been talking for about ten minutes so I think this is going to be more than one podcast. Haha. I’m trying to make these podcasts about twenty minutes each because I don’t know about you, but I find after twenty minutes I need a bit of a break. I’m looking to do them in bitesize chunks. There will be more podcasts on the benefits.
OK, so number two. Number two is when we practice mindfulness we naturally become more positive. Now this is an interesting one. It’s an interesting one to explain. I don’t know whether I’ve actually explained it before – articulated it. It’s certainly something that I experience myself personally and I know that other people experience it that are practicing mindfulness. Let me see if I can answer that question: Why are we more positive when we’re mindful? Well, often positivity comes from seeing clearly, and comes from understanding the truth, and comes from having wisdom and perspective. Positivity also comes from kindness.
When you’re mindful you’re able to access wisdom, which is the plus in the Mindfulness+. It allows you to connect with the spiritual dimension that transcends you. Wisdom flows down that channel, as does love and kindness. When you’re mindful and you’re not lost in thought, and the mind’s peaceful it’s much easier to understand the facts of the situation and not to become deluded. When you’re deluded about situations then more often than not the thinking will be of a negative nature. When you can see clearly and with perspective, and then if you bolt on to that, as I said, kindness and wisdom, and wrap all that together, because you get all this with mindfulness, then that manifests as positivity. So practice mindfulness and you will be a more positive person.
Practicing mindfulness reduces anxiety and psychological stress. It does that because mindfulness and concentration cultivates calmness. One of the Buddhist teachings, as I understand Buddhist teachings, is that one of the best things that you can do if you’re feeling anxious, and you can apply this in meditation, and you can apply this outside meditation as well, is to concentrate, and is to focus on one thing. Mindfulness as I said earlier enables that concentration. When you concentrate on something there’s a natural calming effect on the mind. In my experience, generally speaking, there will be some examples where this is not the case, but generally speaking, when I am resting in my awareness and mindfulness is very much about awareness, when I am aware of how my body is feeling, or aware of what’s around me, or what I can taste or touch or smell, or what I can hear. When that awareness is switched on I automatically find that I become calmer.
My calmness is usually lost because my mind is doing things which is causing me to be stressed and anxious. Can you see? Mindfulness will cultivate calmness. If you meet someone that’s been practicing mindfulness for some time, you will find that person will be generally speaking, calm. The more evolved someone gets in terms of their levels of mindfulness, the calmer they become. Obviously people are going to have times when they’re going to lose their calmness and they become anxious based on certain conditions. Most of us are going to feel anxiety. We’re talking here generally on the whole. If you cultivate more mindfulness, you cultivate more calmness.
People say to me, especially when I’m doing this kind of work. If I’m giving a talk, or if I’m taking part in an interview, or doing some teaching, or doing some coaching; people will often say that you’re mega calm – you’re really calm. I had a chat with a friend earlier and my friend said “you’re the calmest person I know”. It’s interesting because I don’t really view myself as being calm, but then I see myself at times when I’m not mindful and I get quite a bit of anxiety day-to-day. When I’m doing this kind of work like I’m doing now as I’m recording this podcast, I am feeling very calm and very peaceful. It’s because I’m mindful.
When you’re involved in activities that you need to be doing, not necessarily recording podcasts, but if you’re doing what you need to be doing and you’re following your purpose, and you’re being kind, and you’re being skilful, then mindful states will follow. Because of that mindfulness, there will be a calmness that goes with it. That’s calmness.
Relating to the calmness is the fourth benefit which is a quieter mind. The more you practice mindfulness the quieter your mind becomes. This is one of the reasons why I started with mindfulness and meditation and spiritual practice in general. My mind was so noisy. Lots of thoughts racing around and I never really had peace of mind. I’ve worked diligently on my mindfulness practice. I can honestly say that now if I compare my mind now to what it was, you know, ten, twenty, thirty years ago, it’s just completely different. I could imagine, in fact I’d be interested if someone would have done a brain scan when I was young because I was very anxious as a child. If someone did a brain scan then, and then they did a brain scan now, how different my brain would be physically. I think it must – it feels like it’s just changed. Like the shape and structure of it. It’s just changed. And it’s a lot quieter. So my thoughts are quieter. They’re also slower. Not all the time, but most of the time, just slower, quieter, there’s more space, it’s more peaceful, it’s nice. It feels a bit strange sometimes when I reflect on it. It feels nice, so I recommend it. It quietens the mind, mindfulness quietens the mind.
Hey, I’ve done four out of the eighteen benefits and I’m just coming up to twenty minutes on the podcast so I’m gonna leave it there I think. I’ll do another one of these and yeah we’ll just keep going until we work through the eighteen points. Thanks very much for listening. It has been my pleasure to record this and share these teachings with you. My name is Darren Cockburn you’re listening to the Mindfulness+ Podcast. Details and availability via the website which is www.mindfulnessonlinetraining.org.
Copyright © 2018 Darren Cockburn. www.darrencockburn.com. All Rights Reserved