Try it! Just take 3 minutes to focus on your breath without any thoughts coming to mind.
What happens? Where you able to sit without any thoughts entering your mind?
If so you have mastered meditation/mindfulness; two scientifically proven techniques to reduce one’s stress, increase performance and productivity, and even reduce the risk of dementia by over 80% as we age.
Here’s a sample of mastering Meditation / Mindfulness to reduce mind wandering and one’s stress.
In the image below, there are 2 results of the 3 min test. In the first session, I intentionally started to THINK, the second session, was just experiencing my breath without any thoughts what-so-ever.
Could you achieve close to a 100% calm state? Could you maintain it throughout the day, or return to it when needed? If the answer is NO, you have not mastered your ability to manage stress. And you are not alone. In our over stimulated society, few of us can do it. The good news is everyone can learn how.
46.9% of waking hours is spent thinking thinking about something other than what they’re doing and according to the recent Harvard Gazzete article a wandering mind not a not happy mind. If fact, neuroscience, has discovered it’s the default mode of our minds. However, when our minds wander and are not in the present experience they are the cause of most of our stress. There is empirical evidence that suggests that mind-wandering may represent a pure failure of cognitive control and thus pose little benefit. And it negatively impacts reading comprehension and model building, impair the ability to withhold automatized responses, and disrupts performance on tests of working memory and intelligence. (The costs and benefits of mind-wandering).
Even crazier is according to a recent Prevention Magazine article, one study showed that 67% of men and 25% of women chose to administer painful electrical shocks to themselves rather than try to cope with being alone with their thoughts. In my view, it’s a rather insane choice considering mindful practices are easy learned and mastered with the appropriate time commitment and practice. They are also free once mastered and don’t have the negative side effects of pharmaceuticals. Why would one choose adding further stress to one’s live with self-inflicted electrical shocks? As a culture are we that adverse to being present and aware?
Chronic stress– stress that interferes with your ability to function normally over an extended period – is becoming a public health crisis. Most Americans are suffering from moderate to high stress, with 44 percent reporting that their stress levels have increased over the past five years. – American Psychological Association
Stress is toxic to body and brain, your health and well being. 77% Percent of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress – www.statisticbrain.com (Research Date: April 27th, 2015)
The cost of stress to businesses.
Stress Impacts your health, your brain, productivity, and performance.
Source: “The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans” and “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” – Dr. Daniel Amen
Food for thought: What is STRESS costing you, your customers, or others around you?
Want to master skills to reduce stress, my “Yoga for Relaxation” and other programs: Mastering Mindfulness, Meditation for Beginners, and Brain Maker Seminars start the first and second week of January 2017. Meditation for example has at least 100 Benefits Why not start the new year stress free?
These are skills anyone at any age can learn. Regular mindful practices can reshape our brains for the better and make us more resilient and better able to cope with present and future stress.