Mindfulness, according to The Mindfulness Project in London, is:
A simple and very powerful practice of training our attention. It’s … about paying attention to what’s happening here and now (sensations, thoughts, emotions) in a non-judgemental way. It can interrupt the habit of getting lost in thoughts, mostly about the future or past, which often generate more stress on top of the real pressures of everyday life.
The Huff Post, in an article by Alexa Frey, one of the Mindfulness Project’s co-founders, warns about ‘forcing’ positive feelings and working without a teacher, but this is what attracted me to the whole idea: a video of a University of Wisconsin-Madison project made with the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds. I love the young girl at the beginning who says: ‘I don’t know what we’re doing … why are they making us do this?’ And then a teacher: ‘We saw a transformation after two or three weeks.’ Especially when a hip-hop (yes, hip-hop) element was added. Do watch it: I defy you not to feel better.
It’s said that mindfulness can boost creativity and innovation (another Huff Post article by Bianca Rothschild agrees): a friend of mine sent me an article that describes 18 things creative people do differently. The first of the 18 things is daydreaming:
Although daydreaming may seem mindless, a 2012 study suggested it could actually involve a highly engaged brain state – daydreaming can lead to sudden connections and insights because it’s related to our ability to recall information in the face of distractions. Neuroscientists have also found that daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with imagination and creativity.
So now I can daydream without feeling guilty. Obviously, I’m working.
And the thing I’d love to have made this month, if time and everything-else allowed, is the mistress of exploring creativity and the whole resistance, guilt, difficulty and how-not-to-give-up-ness of it all, Elizabeth Gilbert‘s new book, Big Magic. It’s out this month. Here’s a favourite quote:
Don’t abandon your creativity the moment things stop being easy or rewarding – because that’s the moment when interesting begins.