Most of us lead complex and overly busy lives, with too much to do and not enough time. The world we live in is complex, uncertain, and full of challenges and concerns. And we are connected to all of this by our “always-on” smartphones, social media and 24-hour news. It’s interesting that secular mindfulness appeared into the mainstream in this context. Although the practice is useful for individuals, groups, and potentially, society, it’s not a universal panacea. Many things need to be solved in the world before we can live in balance.
Practising mindfulness is neither easy nor obvious. For a start, most of us were not explicitly taught what thoughts or emotions are as we develop. So, we reach adulthood assuming that we are our thoughts and emotions. Through repetition, we also lay down habit patterns of thought, emotion, and behaviour; some that serve us well and others that limit and deplete us. It’s unfortunate and a little ironic that our brain adapts to and serves us what we pay attention to; what it thinks we like. So, for example, the more we worry, the more worrying thoughts the brain provides. When we cultivate mindfulness, we begin to rewire the habitual pathways in our brains that no longer serve us and begin to transform our relationship with our experience.