As a neuropsychologist, I have spent many years studying how the brain works and helping people when their brains are not working they way they need them to. In my work and in my life, the most powerful tool I use is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of living in the present moment, of focusing our full attention on the here and the now, rather than being distracted by our thoughts – rethinking the past or worrying about the future – or trying to do many things at once. Mindfulness is rooted in the ancient wisdom of faiths and cultures worldwide. And the more high-tech and complex our lives become, it seems, the more we need it.
The primary purpose of developing our mindfulness is to decrease distress and generate happiness. Mindfulness can often work better than medication for problems with attention, anxiety, and depression, as I discuss in other posts (attention). It is a simple idea, but like a tiny seed if cared for over time this tool can become a mighty oak, keeping us anchored during emotional storms, enabling us to heal and to grow.