What is mindfulness? Why Should I be mindful?
I describe mindfulness in two simple words: “pay attention”. When we pay attention with all of our senses, we are then present in the current moment. By being in the current moment, our minds are not ruminating about the past or worried about the future. Modern psychology defines mindfulness as “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.”
Scientific and medical studies have confirmed what centuries of people practicing mindful techniques have already known. The benefits of practicing mindful techniques start internally with a person creating emotional, physical, and mental harmony. When a person has this type of emotional and physical balance, they are less affected by changes in external circumstances such as stress, anger, fear, and anxiety.
What is the origin of mindfulness?
The origin of mindfulness can be found in many of the traditional Eastern based religions. However, the modern day practice of mindfulness is not based in any religious practice. Mindfulness is, however, considered a practice, which means it is something that should be done on a regular basis without attachment to results or outcome.
The key to any of these practices is being aware in the present moment, and this is achieved connecting to the breath. There are now many different types of practices of meditation that can bring one to a mindful state. There is no “one best” or “gold standard” method to achieve mindfulness.
Traditional method of achieving mindfulness is based in meditation. Meditation comes in many forms, I often recommend starting with guided meditation for people that are new to the practice.
When and how did I become aware of mindfulness?
I was working over 80 hours a week as a neurologist in academic medicine. This led to a complete lack of work-life balance and eventually career burnout. On the rare occasions I had free time, I would find my way to a yoga or meditation class in my neighborhood. I then started using guided meditation in my daily life. I then realized that situations which would normally create stress in my life, like getting paged by the hospital in the middle of the night, didn’t bother me as much emotionally.
I noticed a regular meditation and yoga practice helped alleviate pain and anxiety when I was undergoing surgery for achalasia (a rare medical disorder involving the esophagus and stomach). I then started researching the scientific benefits to mood, physical health, and work performance with a regular mindfulness based practiced.
This also inspired me to travel around Eastern Asia learning various meditation techniques and completing hatha yoga teacher training. I combined my passion for neuroscience, meditation, and yoga into teaching and practicing mind-body medicine.
I now travel around the country teaching my Mindset Matters program which is based in neuroscience, positive psychology, and mindfulness. Corporate clients, Universities, and individuals learn how mindfulness based techniques like yoga and meditation help with stress management, boosting brainpower and fostering emotional resilience.
Watch Dr. Romie discuss mindfulness and neuroscience in her TEDx talk, "The Powerful Secret of Your Breath".
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