Doing to Being
With mindfulness we shift from the busy “doing” modes of mind to the more present “being” modes of mind, thereby allowing ourselves to find the pleasant, the joy in the moment. Please note that we can be sitting drinking coffee and look like we’re in the present moment but the mind can still be busy planning, thinking, writing lists etc.
Here is some elementary neuroscience that helps to explain how mindfulness helps us to be more present, less anxious and stressed.
Autonomic Nervous System
Firstly, it’s helpful to understand what happens when a person is feeling anxious, feels overstretched and stressed. The nervous system is being stimulated and here’s how.
We have a part of the nervous system called the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) which is in charge of the automatic functions like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and so on.
The Sympathetic branch activates the stress response, otherwise known as “fight and flight”. The other main branch, the Parasympathetic, helps us calm down, otherwise known as the “rest and digest” and this is generally switched on when practising mindfulness.
What happens to you when you feel stressed? Please write under the Sympathetic nervous system what you feel physically, what happens to your thoughts and how are you emotionally?
Now, do the same for the other branch, the Parasympathetic. How is your body, your emotions and thoughts when you’re calm and relaxed?