Beginner’s Mind is a very important aspect of mindfulness, a mind free of expectations and judgments. Beginner’s mind invites us to look at things as if we were seeing them for the first time, as a small child, full of curiosity and wonder and amazement. Recall the Socratic conception of wisdom: knowing that one doesn’t know. If we have the answer already, then there is no need for us to look; we stay stuck in the same mind-set, reacting to things as always, nothing ever changes. Living as if we always “know” keeps us out of the present, and living in the past. It doesn’t allow us anything new, no surprises, no insights, no discoveries, it keeps us frozen in the judgments of the past. Beginner’s mind can help us to see things in a new light and open us to the unique potential of every moment of our life.
A Harvard research finds that participation in an 8 week MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) program with less than half an hour daily meditation resulted in significant differences in participant’s brain structure. A thickening of a number of different regions of the brain associated with learning and memory, emotional regulation, sense of self and perspective taking was observed whilst the amygdala, known to play an important role in anxiety and stress, showed decreased grey-matter density.
Click here for the full article in the Harvard Gazette.
Kristen Race, brain scientist and mother, describes the stress of modern life, which our traditional stress response is often not suited to deal with, and describes how mindfulness can help. As a mother she talks about how mindfulness can help in particular for parents and children alike.
Some of the benefits of Mindfulness described by Professor Mark Williams (Oxford Mindfulness Center). With mindfulness, brain patterns evolve: empathy and compassion increases. The amygdala, the part of our brain triggering fight and flight responses, is inhibited with mindfulness. Mark Williams has co-developed the MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) to help people with depression. MBCT has now become one of the preferred treatments for depression in the UK and a number of other countries.
Harvard research shows that our ability to stay in the moment is directly linked to our happiness. However our minds wander for large amount of our lives : based on this research, 47% of our waking hours are spent not focused on what we are actually doing.