1. A tag or sheath, as of plastic, on the end of a lace, cord, or ribbon to facilitate its passing through eyelet holes. 2. A similar device used for an ornament. [Middle English, from Old French aguillette, diminutive of aguille,needle, from Vulgar Latin *acūcula, from Late Latin acucula, diminutive of Latin acus, needle; see ak- in Indo-European roots.]
Mindfulness and meditation have been around for thousands of years. It is only relatively recently that they have started to appear on the radar as potential treatments for physical and mental health difficulties.
When I grow up I wanna be famous I wanna be a star I wanna be in movies
When I grow up I wanna see the world Drive nice cars I wanna have groupies
Humankind is a very successful animal. Some two hundred thousand years ago, the entire human race consisted of a few thousand people living in Southern Africa. In the ensuing years, we have made full use of our adaptability and survival skills, and have spread to every corner of the globe on the way becoming the world’s dominant species. Our current population is heading for eight billion. Much of this success is due to our ability to survive against the odds.
The systems developed by the process of evolution to detect, and then react to danger, have stood us in good stead. However, these systems, designed to pick up the early signs of danger, can be very unhelpful in the digital age.
People today are in danger of drowning in information; but, because they have been taught that information is useful, they are more willing to drown than they need be.
If they could handle information, they would not have to drown at all.”
― Idries Shah, Reflections
Information is one thing that is plentiful in the twenty first century. It is said that one week of the New York Times contains more information than the average person, alive just fifty years ago, would have been exposed to in their entire lives. As well as the ever increasing availablity of information, the volume of data available seems to be expanding exponentially, and most of this is unfiltered. This knowledge revolution, while having many benefits, does come with a significant price.
Attention Deficit Trait (ADT) is a term that describes the effects of a persistent state of information overload that can be generated by the digital world. It was first used by psychiatrist, Edward Hallowell, in an article in the Harvard Business Review. He described a state “Marked by distractability, inner frenzy, and impatience…” occuring in business managers that turned “otherwise talented performers into harried underachievers.”
This condition although similar to ADHD, is caused by the environment in which we live and work. In other words it is something that we are doing to ourselves.
I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.
The term Mindfulness seems to be on everyone’s lips at the moment. A great deal of research has already been undertaken into its benefits, and these cover many of the domains of our daily lives .
Although much of this research has been carried out on adults, there is increasing evidence that there are also benefits for young people. Indeed, even the British government has started to advocate that it should be taught in schools.
There are known knowns. These are things that we know we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things that we don’t know we don’t know. Donald Rumsfeld.
This quote is a wonderful example of using words to hide meaning. At the height of the first Gulf War it was made as part of an explanation for some error on behalf of the coalition forces.
On the surface it sounds like so much spin-doctor nonsense, however, it is in fact a very profound remark and goes beyond the usual level of awareness that many of us have about the workings of our own minds.
Donald Rumsfeld should perhaps have also gone on to mention unknown knowns. This may sound daft, but there are many things that we know at a non-conscious level, and of which we are not consciously aware, that have a significant influence on both our behaviour and well being.
These are the things we have programmed our brains to do without always allowing them into awareness. They are the subroutines that help us to react rapidly, but not always wisely, to events that occur in both in our internal and external worlds.
Many of us live by other peoples’ rules. We are afraid to act in our own interests. There is always someone else whose opinion carries more weight than our own. Someone to whom we have given the power to veto the decisions that we make about how we live our lives. These are often internalised figures from our past.
We wait for the right moment to act; when we have the right job, when we have enough money, when we meet Mr or Ms Right. If we retrain for a different job it might be years before we are ready, so we choose not to. We decide to stay with the status quo and miss out on opportunities to have a richer life.
Where our future is are concerned we have to act, otherwise we will be at the mercy of everything else that is happening. As the Nike advertisement said “Just do it.”
Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different, enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t) James Baraz
The benefits of mindfulness in adults are being well researched, and the available evidence about this practice shows many positive benefits across several domains of human functioning. Research into the benefits for young people has lagged behind the work in adults but is starting to demonstrate very similar effects.
Several studies which have used brain scans and other neuroscientific assessments, have demonstrated both structural and functional changes in the brain following mindfulness practice. These changes are directly related to improvements in both the clarity of our thinking as well as our awareness and control over our feelings.
This means that we can act out of what is happening in the present moment rather than allowing past events and scripts to dictate our current choices and behaviours.
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