Does the Word "Mindfulness" Stress You Out? Here are Some Relaxing Alternatives (Pt. 1)

September 29, 2016

The corporate world is full of buzzwords lately. Any “forward-thinking”, “dynamic”, “team-player” knows that. These words are popular for a reason (what on earth did we do before “reach out?”). However, after hearing them so often, they can start to lose meaning and get annoying. The term “mindfulness” definitely has the potential to fall into the buzzword category. But before we start tuning mindfulness out, let’s “circle back” and “synergize” some new terms. Each of the following definitions highlights an aspect of mindfulness that could help make it “value added” for you. It’ll help you understand what the heck it even means in the first place. Who knows, you may realize you’ve known what it is all along.

1. Mental strength training

The physical effects of regular meditation on our brains is quite an impressive pump. Studies have shown that meditation has the power to:

  • Reduce age related brain shrinkage and increase grey matter
  • Thicken areas of the brain associated with learning, memory and emotional regulation
  • Reduce the size of the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, stress and anxiety

So let’s all hit the mental gym and buff out the best parts of our brains!

2. Jedi mind tricks  

According to Wookiepedia, a very reliable source, a Jedi mind trick is, “an ability of the Force that allowed the practitioner to influence the thoughts of the affected, generally to the user's advantage.” Sounds a heck of a lot like mindfulness training, except that the Force and the Dark side can both be found in our minds. When we choose to use the Force for good, we train our minds to be present, strong and up for any challenge. With no mental training, we are more prone to find ourselves lurking on the Dark side, where anger and impatience plague us. In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda coaches Luke to use the force “for knowledge and defense.” Never for attack, and most importantly, to let go of his anger. Put Yoda in a suit, shave his ear hair and he would make an excellent supervisor.

3. Anti-absoluteness goggles

You know how there are beer goggles? There are also anti-absoluteness goggles (AAGs). Do you have that one guy in the office who always offers important, alternative perspectives? This person may be a mindfulness superhero. He notices you getting stressed and agitated at a meeting, when one of your co-workers repeatedly interrupts and appears to take credit for your project. With the power of his AAGs, he shows you that your initial, fear based interpretation is only one version of reality. And then suggests some alternative possibilities. You feel your anger diffusing, and take a deep breath. There’ll be plenty of time to figure this out later. Strap on your own pair of AAGs and move on, for now.

4. A professional brain organizer

Until recently, scientists thought that human brains were incapable of generating new brain cells and connections. Luckily, this rather dismal hypothesis has been disproven. The latest discoveries in neuroplasticity show that our noggins are a lot more adaptive and flexible than we originally thought. The good news is that with intention and regular practice, meaningful change and learning is possible at any age. Meditation builds new connections and reorganizes the brain to allow for greater focus, concentration and calm. Let the brain rewiring begin!

Speaking of the brain, I’ve given yours enough to process for today. Stay tuned for pt. 2 of this post for the rest of this list - it’ll make mindfulness seem less daunting than it can sometimes seem.

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