The value of mindfulness is a universal theme common to all Eastern and Western wisdom traditions. Now scientists are discovering what contemplatives have been experiencing for a long time, as the health benefits of bringing this kind of dynamic awareness to our daily lives are being widely studied at Harvard Medical School, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Stanford Research Center, the Menninger Clinic, and many other prestigious research centers.
Although the benefits of effective stress reduction can be tasted almost immediately when one begins to live more mindfully, mindfulness taken deeply enough creates a profound state of inner balance that does more than reduce the harmful effects of stress in the body and mind.
At its deepest levels, mindfulness ripens into the qualities of appreciation, love, and compassion. When this happens, we not only feel centered and good, but these positive states of psychospiritual caring and connectedness have immediate, measurable benefits, such as enhancing immunological resilience, brain function, and the workings of the heart.
At its core, mindfulness is not different than love, and love is the greatest healing force there is. By nurturing our entire nervous system with the healing power of mindfulness in this way, we can maintain balance in our emotional lives and keep our bodies and minds functioning with optimal integrity.
Thus, mindfulness provides a psychophysical basis of stability, which, in turn, provides the foundation for building stable and nurturing relationships.
Mindfulness is a perfect practice for people who live and work intensely. This rigorous and subtle practice cultivates such mental and emotional benefits as vivid mental clarity, deep listening, calm intensity, and authentic presence. The benefits of mindfulness are very important in balancing the complexity, intensity, stress, and change of our busy lives.
Some other significant benefits of mindfulness include:
Most importantly, mindfulness gives you a still point to return to in chaos, and it helps you notice where your energy is being expended. By noticing what you are paying attention to, you have more freedom to choose.
In every domain of human experience, our ability to make wise choices, influence situations, and move toward greater balance depends upon the awareness we bring to the moment. The more mindless we are, the less we are in control of our lives, and the more out of balance we feel. Increasing mindfulness, therefore, is an essential tool for living, learning, and working in balance.
Because it seems so simple, it can be hard to believe that mindfulness can be of any importance in finding balance in our lives. But if you practice mindfulness, you will be surprised at your ability to change, radically and dramatically.
This is like the trim-tab effect, where a massive ship can be more easily turned by putting a small rudder on the larger rudder, which helps it to move more easily. The place of the greatest leverage in your life is to practice mindfulness. It will give rise to a qualitative shift in your attention that will then allow you to reap the benefits and easily make positive changes in the quality of your life.
Remember, in the mathematics of chaos science even the tiniest change in an equation will, over time, create a dramatically different structure and form of appearance. Each insight that you come to through mindfulness, if taken to heart, has the potential to substantially transform and reshape the course of your life.
[Adapted from the book "Living in Balance" by Joel Levey
and Michelle Levey]