Description: Try this statement on for size. The way we think, the way we focus our attention, the way we organize and reflect upon our thoughts are, in large part, best thought of as adaptations to the world we are living in (the physical AND the social world). Does that make sense? OK, now, how much of the way we think, then, is due to the world or typical daily environment we find ourselves in? I suspect you might only be prepared to say something like “well maybe a little bit” because we like to think we are in charge of our thinking (at least as adults), right? How might we test the strength of this “I am in charge” assertion? Well, how about instigating a seismic shift in our environments, in the world we subjectively experience and reflect upon? That would not be ethical you say? Well, that is what you should say! However, the current Covid-19 pandemic has no ethics and it has significantly changed the world we are experiencing day-to-day and while we would like to think that we are able to “see” and factor those changes into our thought processes we are actually experiencing a great deal of uncertainty (unknowns) and those can trigger anxiety and hypervigilance without our being aware of the triggers themselves (because they are uncertain and unknowns). What do we do in such situations? We search for distractors, we miss the “noise” of our previous typical, “normal” day-to-day lives and we do NOT spend much if any time simply being with, reflecting upon, pour thoughts. Quite a natural experiment and quite a test of our ability or distinct lack of ability to be mindful. What sort of data is your personal experience with your thoughts and your stress and anxiety so far within the new day-to-day world of the pandemic? How mindful are you? Think about this for a moment and then read the article linked below for a first person case study account of these matters as well as consideration of what it suggests about our mindfulness these days.
Source: The pandemic is worsening negative thought patterns, but with mindfulness we can help the mind help itself, Aileen Lalor, The Globe and Mail.
Date: February 26, 2021
So, how did your inventory of your mental activities these days go? Do you think you need to do some work on mindfulness and would doing so help you adapt more effectively to your subjective world as it is today? From the times decades ago where we were all being told we needed to learn how to and to practice multitasking in order to adapt to the increasing busy and changing world we were living in then we are now being told that it might be a good idea to find some ways to mentally back away from the “noise” of our day-to-day lives these days. Mindfulness has never been more important. Find some time and quiet space and be with your thoughts for a bit on a regular basis. It will put you more in charge of your thoughts and, through that, more in charge of the anxieties and uncertainties that you likely have more of today than you are really fully aware of.
Questions for Discussion:
- How aware of your day-to-day patterns of thought (how mindful are you)?
- What are some things that you noticed that you are doing that are similar to those busy making things the article’s author noted in her own experience?
- What role can mindfulness practice play in how we adapt to the day-to-day or subjective world around us these days and into the future?
References (Read Further):
Bos, Julie (2020) Soaring Screen Time, Vision Monday, Link
Gotink, R. A., Meijboom, R., Vernooij, M. W., Smits, M., & Hunink, M. M. (2016). 8-week mindfulness based stress reduction induces brain changes similar to traditional long-term meditation practice–a systematic review. Brain and cognition, 108, 32-41. Link
Goldin, P. R., & Gross, J. J. (2010). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder. Emotion, 10(1), 83. Link
Hunt, M. G., Marx, R., Lipson, C., & Young, J. (2018). No more FOMO: Limiting social media decreases loneliness and depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 37(10), 751-768. Link
Bostock, S., Crosswell, A. D., Prather, A. A., & Steptoe, A. (2019). Mindfulness on-the-go: Effects of a mindfulness meditation app on work stress and well-being. Journal of occupational health psychology, 24(1), 127. Link
Donald, J. N., Sahdra, B. K., Van Zanden, B., Duineveld, J. J., Atkins, P. W., Marshall, S. L., & Ciarrochi, J. (2019). Does your mindfulness benefit others? A systematic review and meta‐analysis of the link between mindfulness and prosocial behaviour. British Journal of Psychology, 110(1), 101-125. Link
Baer, R., Crane, C., Miller, E., & Kuyken, W. (2019). Doing no harm in mindfulness-based programs: conceptual issues and empirical findings. Clinical psychology review, 71, 101-114. Link
Britton, W. B. (2019). Can mindfulness be too much of a good thing? The value of a middle way. Current opinion in psychology, 28, 159-165. Link