Mindfulness: Week 1 of the Journey

I’m a bit MOOC fan. FREE EDUCATION!–are you kidding me?–I’m in!  So about a month ago I noticed the class offered by Monash University: MINDFULNESS FOR WELLBEING AND PEAK PERFORMANCE and it has finally started- Thankfully because the timing is perfect!

I’ve read books about meditation and watched video and movies on how mindfulness can reduce stress and reduce negative behavior. So I’m actually pretty surprised at how much I’m learning-not that I think I am an expert or anything-but I did think that I might get bored or uninterested early on with the “basics”.

So in Week 1, the instructors, Dr. Craig Hassad and Dr. Richard Chambers are giving an overview of what is Mindfulness. I think my greatest take away from the readings and video lectures is that multi-tasking is a myth. Doing multiple things at once does not make you more productive and in fact negatively impacts your memory and ability to complete task efficient and effectively. There is a blink in your attention in which your brain goes off line for a fraction of a second and you aren’t even aware of it. So you are actually “mindless” as you switch from one task or distraction to another, making completing tasks more stressful.

Research on the effects of mindfulness also indicate that people’s brains are actually impacted as their perspective changes, observing their thoughts as mental events rather than facts, and new areas are developed within the brain to help reduce stress and negative emotion.

I do have to say that just small changes such as turning off my notifications on my phone and laptop have made me feel more present and less stressed this week. I can really focus on a task that I am involved in. Also, it has helped me to remember that I can’t carry on a conversation or engage with people when I am on my devices or doing something else. I have been trying very hard to remain present and focus on people or completing the task at hand. I know this isn’t on the same level as a Buddhist monk, but I think if I keep making small steps towards my goal, I will eventually arrive at a place of greater consciousness and peace.



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