Conscious Living, Understanding Self

How Does Mindfulness Work? – A Physiological Perspective

The usual life of demanding schedules has taken away our quality of being attentive to the life passing by us.

Just ask yourself a simple question, for how long can you dwell on a single thing unless you are working on something? Even when we are working, our attention is so often diverted by our desire to check on the social media, even if there had been no notifications pinging the mobile.

All of us are suffering from mild to medium ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). May be it is not so strong that it completely ruins us, but of course there is enough scope to make our lives better.

It only requires slowing things down a bit and paying attention to each of them. This is termed as mindfulness or attentive living.

There are a plenty of self-help routines on mindfulness, including this guide by us on how to practice mindfulness in everyday activities. However, a discussion on the deeper aspects of the phenomenon of mindfulness, which reveals why it works, had not been carried out with so much vigor.

This will also reveal the very nature of human constitution and put up a mirror in front of us to show how we really work.

The question is whether we are aligned to that nature, or we are suffering due to ignorance of it.

putting up a mirror in front of us to know ourselves

A Physiological Perspective

From the meta-physiological perspective, giving attention basically means fulfilling our five senses. You see more fully, listen more carefully, taste and smell more discerningly, touch more affectionately.

The five senses constantly demand this from us.

But racing in our daily lives, we are unable to fulfill this simple demand since we are unable to give our persisting attention to anything.

As such, we keep our five senses dissatisfied, and this keeps us in a constant mode of dissatisfaction. Because what are we but our experience? And our five senses are the first gateway of experiencing the Existence around us.

a schematic cartoon on how does mindfulness work

Simply try to pay attention to something using one or more of your senses for some duration of time, and you will immediately feel a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. This is what happens when we appreciate nature’s beauty out in the open. We can bring in the same sense of fulfillment and contentment in our everyday life as well.

If you are wondering how that can be done, you can read this post which points out several of our daily activities which can be done attentively and thus bring in a sense of fulfillment in you.

Mindfulness have also been studied scientifically, noting down the positive changes it brings to our brain and hormonal response. You may go through these three articles for details – Article 1 | Article 2 | Article 3.

We’re really not body conscious. And that’s the problem.

It has often been blamed that our sufferings arise due to us living a body-centric life. However, nothing can be further from truth.

If we had been centered in our body, or be body conscious, we would actually be living a more fulfilling life.

The real cause of suffering is that we are not living consciously, whether oriented around the physical body or not.

Ask yourself, when you are watching a beautiful scene, perhaps a picturesque landscape, are you completely engrossed in it? Are you seeing all the colors with equal attention? Or you simply feel the fleeting sense of joy and move ahead?

You can tell if you can remember the scene vividly in your mind. And in most cases, we can’t.

We are not even conscious of what we see, even when we are seeing something beautiful.

In the same manner, we are not conscious of what we hear, what we taste, what we smell and what we touch.

Perhaps sometimes we are. But most times we aren’t. And those times when we were conscious, we had received such a sense of fulfillment that the memory etched itself in us.

I am sure you can remember the eyes of your lover if you have once seen them closely. I am sure you can sing the tune of your favourite song and it gives you the same contentment as listening to it. I am sure you remember touching something which gave you a sense of fulfillment, which for me is a soft-toy bunny I gifted my niece. Similarly, you can remember the smell of some perfume or a favorite dish, and still relish the taste of something you had had long before.

The problem is we don’t live our lives with the conscious intention of experiencing the existence around us. At times, on the mercy of things external to us, we gather some moments of experience which fulfills one or more of our five senses. What we need to do is reverse this. By intention we need to fulfill our five senses while experiencing the existence around us. This can be practiced in our everyday affairs, only we need to be attentive to the extent that it fulfills our senses.

The question is, can we align our lives to the underlying nature of our five senses and lead ourselves to a more fulfilling experience of life?

Wish to know more on how mindfulness works? Read this post to understand the psychological perspective.

live a fulfilling life by paying attention to the five senses and making each moment an experience to remember




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