“Here And Now” – Mindfulness 101

18 - Here and Now

Mindfulness is all about HERE and NOW, the conscious state of being focused in the present moment.

One of the top Mindfulness contemporary investigators happens to be my friend and family Vasco Gaspar. Lucky me!

Certified by Google’s Search Inside Yourself program and author of the 8-week Mindfulness program ZorBuddha, he has released his new book Aqui e Agora (Here and Now).

So, WHAT is this trendy avant-garde kind of concept? HOW does it work? And WHERE do I start if I want to practice it? Furthermore, let’s take Mindfulness into our workplace, rehearsal studios, and performing stages, transforming our music here and now.

Attention is the basis of all higher cognitive and emotional abilities.

The quality of our attention determines the quality of our results. Therefore one should embrace a training process that calms and clears the quality of the mind.

What is  the root of the word Mindfulness? In Tibetan the word “Gom” means to familiarize, to accustom to self. In Pali the word “Bhavana” means to cultivate.

Hence, Mindfulness is mental training, focus of attention and mind strengthening.

John Kabat Zinn defines Mindfulness as “the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non judgementally”.

Mindfulness is an intentional awareness that is cultivated by paying attention.

The observation of our thoughts and emotions will lead us to the self-knowledge, which enables self-mastery.

The most conventional activities that promote Mindfulness are:

  • Meditation;
  • Yoga;
  • Tai-Chi;
  • Visualization;
  • Qi Gong;
  • Chi Kung;
  • Martial Arts, and the like.

Notice that  we can only pay Mindful attention to one to seven things at the same time. Automaticity is not mindful. Our conscious span of attention can manage around 40 different stimuli and Multi-tasking is a rapid shift of attention between different tasks. But unconsciously the brain can process around 2 million information.

The challenge, then, is to Focus on the Present Moment using:

1 – Body Sensations: Body Scan and mindful walking.

2 – Thoughts: Observe and let them come and go, as if they were clouds passing by over a blue sky.

3 – Emotions: Exhale anger, resentment or hate and inhale peace, light or love.

One of the most important brain characteristics is its neuroplasticity, the capacity to grow and change through experience and training. Mindfulness improves our focus and attention; which allows the brain to fire the circuits we need to achieve mastery and peak performance. But as a muscle, it has to be practiced.

Here are some benefits of Mindfulness:

–       Increased emotional intelligence;

–       Increased interpersonal sensitivity;

–       Increased personal resilience;

–       Increased self-awareness and awareness of others;

–       Increased concentration and attention span;

–       Increased capacity to hold and manipulate information;

–       Increased well-being and overall work and life satisfaction.

–       Enhanced communication skills;

–       Improved sleeping patterns;

–       Reduction of stress levels;

–       Reduction of health-related absenteeism;

–       Reduction of impulsivity;

–   Reduction of psychological distress (including depression and anxiety)

Are you feeling more focused and aware? Can you take that frame of mind into the practice room, music lessons and concerts?

Here’s a simple exercise to get you started: Pay attention to your first thought towards a person and mould it into a shape like “I want you to be happy”. Compassion and good will creates trust in others, and you can build those qualities simply by paying attention… HERE AND NOW.

For more on the subject check Vasco Gaspar’s article The Mindful Revolution

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