Are you living on autopilot?
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the demands and challenges you face? You may have a lot of roles to combine; being an efficient professional, a caring parent, a loving partner or friend, keeping in touch with your family, staying healthy and fit – the list never ends. All this requires a lot of planning and thinking ahead.
But even at times when you would like to wind down, your thoughts continue to race. It is very difficult to stop the worrying and overthinking, especially when we are bombarded with unsettling information. Therefore, you might not really be present for the people you care about or fully be in touch with your own body.
You may be in what is called the "autopilot mode", focusing on acting rather than being present. This can be truly exhausting because it triggers your body's stress system.
You are not alone. In our busy lives with so many stimuli and distractions, our stress system gets triggered much more often than it was designed to be. Add to that the constant solicitations of our devices which keep our body and mind in a constant state of alert – all factors which contribute to building up chronic stress and fatigue.
Cultivating inner resources in stressful times
The world is facing an unprecedented rise of depression, suicide and mental health issues. According to the WHO World Mental Health report published in June 2022, depression and anxiety rose by 25% in the first year of the pandemic, bringing the number of people living with a mental disorder to nearly one billion people
Therefore it is more important than ever to cultivate mental resources such as mindfulness, positivity and self-compassion – and learn how to ground yourself.
Mindfulness can help you to adapt in this changing environment and increase your resilience towards everything life sends your way.
Mindfulness offers ways for you to step out of this stressful autopilot mode and to build up inner resources of calm and focus instead.
Rediscovering the sources of wellbeing inside you
- By training yourself to live more in the present moment, rather than constantly thinking about the past or the future
- By learning to ground yourself, to be kinder to yourself, to be more aware of your automatic behaviours
- By taking good care of yourself, moment by moment
- By learning to be present for yourself and others
- By undoing your negativity bias through taking in the good that is in and around you
A mindfulness training is built up around different forms of meditation that can be learned by everyone. Combined with insights from cognitive psychology and a set of attitudes, it is a powerful tool that prevents normal feelings of anxiety, stress, and sadness from spiralling downwards into prolonged periods of unhappiness and exhaustion, or even burn-out or clinical depression.
We will be learning and practicing the art of embracing the full catastrophe. We will be doing this so rather than destroying us or robbing us of our power and our hope, the storms of life will strengthen us as they teach us about living, growing, and healing in a world of flux, change, and sometimes great pain.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living
The benefits of mindfulness:
Scientific research has shown that most people who practice mindfulness report lasting physical and psychological benefits, including:
- Finding inner calm in the midst of the turbulences of life
- An increased ability to cope with stress
- Increased focus and concentration
- Greater energy and enthusiasm for life
- Cultivating inner qualities of compassion, gratitude and care for oneself and others
- Heightened self-confidence and the feeling of being more in control of life
- An increased ability to cope more effectively with stressful situations
- A greater sense of overall wellbeing
- Improved sleep and immune system
Rooted in science
Ever since the 8-week mindfulness programme (MBSR) was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts in the 1970's, it has been thoroughly researched in clinical trials. Science has confirmed that committing to 8 weeks of practice, even if it is only 10 minutes a day, is enough to see the benefits for yourself.
Mindfulness doesn't only boost your happiness levels and reduce the impact of stress – it actually changes the structure of your brain for the better. It also strengthens your immune system and offers support in preventing cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
For an overview of the latest research, you can visit the website of the American Mindfulness Research Association (AMRA) or the Institute of Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom.
We also produced a video series called "mindfulness myths and misunderstandings" about what mindfulness is not. Feel free to check it out!
We believe that mindfulness skills can make this world a better place, not only because it helps to improve individual wellbeing, but also because it leads to wiser choices and more kindness in this world. Our team of international certified mindfulness and yoga teachers has extensive experience at the work place and can train in English, Dutch, German and French.