Mindfulness.  Does it work?  Is it worth your time investment?



COST:  10 minutes per day.

BENEFIT: Measurably enhanced ability to retain concentration and focus.  This improves problem solving and learning in general, but more specifically it develops our ability to work with others through giving our full attention to them.



Mindfulness is a deliberate effort to train your brain to better retain focus, so that you can give your full attention to one thing at a time, particularly things where it is easy to lose concentration – meetings, listening to a colleague etc.

It is a meditative technique which practices choosing the direction of our attention both internally on our own thoughts and externally on the inputs from our senses.  It trains us to be ready to expect that different thoughts will constantly pop in to our head and to quickly recognise the distraction, allowing us to calmly bring our attention back to its intended focus.



Given the neuroplasticity of the brain (its ability to adapt and reshape itself based on our experiences) we can now see the impact of this training on a neurological level with the changes to the architecture of our brains made visible through MRI Scans.

Several changes can quickly (a matter of weeks) be seen.  Mindfulness grows the insulae, associated with emotions and possibly consciousness.  It also grows the hippocampus associated with long term memory and right frontal cortex concerned with decision making and concentration.

Importantly it also adds brain centres to the “Default Mode Network”  which is term used to describe the parts of the brain which operate with non-focused internal thought (daydreaming, re-living memories, future planning, thinking about others, etc.)  The dorsal anterior cingulate and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, essentially add a significant element of control to our untamed thoughts.

At the same time, where overactive,  Mindfulness can shrink the amygdala which  spots danger and initiates the body’s stress response. It also shrinks the connections to and from the amygdala and the functional connectivity or synchronicity of the amygdala with other parts of the brain, literally reducing the influence of stress.



In other words Mindfulness rewires the brain, calming an overactive stress response and improving our ability to self-regulate the thoughts and emotions which otherwise highjack our attention.  Our ability to  focus and “be in the room” is an increasingly difficult skill in a working world where too many things demand our attention and the more focussed we are, the more effective we will be.

As a handy by-product, switching off much of the noise our brains threw at us is deeply relaxing for the 10 or 20 minutes a day it takes to invest in mindfulness.  This seems to reset much of the tension we hold on to and makes the rest of the day calmer and more enjoyable too.  You’ll find others quickly notice the changes in you and they will appreciate even more the full attention you are able to give them.



If you think this is just for tree huggers think again.  This will have an almost immediate, measurable and significant impact on your effectiveness.  Try www.headspace.com or call me on 07730 700258 to discuss this further.