The answer of course is no. Before we get into the scientific studies on why one should practice mindfulness daily, let’s talk about what this means for me, personally, how it has changed my life and how it has driven me towards the mission to bring mindfulness to children worldwide.
As a confessed procrastinator, much of my life has been spent on what I call ‘bulk’ work, I can get an amazing amount of work done yet not always on a consistent basis. So when asked to try this for 30 days, every day, my thinking immediately went to “Really, 30 days every day!” 30 days later, I could not believe how my thoughts then turned to “I can’t believe I have lived this long without having this practice”. Truly, I was feeling better. It was as if things slowed down enough for me to be clearer on what was happening. Yet, I was still unclear as to any long term effects mindfulness may have…maybe I should say that I was a bit skeptical.
I have suffered from anxiety since I was in my early 20’s, not sure what brought it on but I was given some medication to use which was a great aid to stop the physical symptoms of anxiety yet what lay behind the physical symptoms, deeply embedded still sat there. I looked at a list of how mindfulness can bring about changes in one’s health and well-being and anxiety is on that list. The now more positive thought came to me “can mindfulness really help with anxiety”? Could this be a way for me to not have to constantly seek out solutions to my anxiety? I’ll save that journey for another day but for now, let’s just say that the answer is yes. I can still manifest anxiety and my thoughts can still bring on the physical symptoms of anxiety but as I continue practicing daily, I can see and feel how mindfulness has helped with my anxiety.
Fast forward to having a son who was on the verge of entering into elementary school. I thought, as most adults think when it comes to mindfulness that “wow, if I had only had a mindfulness practice as a kid, what a difference it would have made on my life”. Blend that thought with images of kids who are hungry, stressed out, and how illnesses that were previously related to adults were showing up in kids (heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.). Not to mention that only 80% of our students nationwide that were entering into high school were graduating in 4 years. And that as a country to we rated 27 in math and 20 in science of all industrialized countries (OECD 2012). No, my anxiety did not come back but a sense of urgency did. How could I give my son, his friends and children everywhere the best advantage to succeed in school? This strong desire resulted in creating the non-profit Inner Explorer. Inner Explorer has enabled Laura and I as Co-Founders the ability to make a difference in children’s lives worldwide and we have just started, we have so many children to reach and our belief is that with a daily mindfulness practice done in all grades, Pre-K to 12, we can create a generational shift in love, compassion, and readiness to learn.
I don’t expect that you’ll just accept my viewpoint so there needs to be some scientific studies that back up my understanding of this concept. I will, of course, first mention our study that showed a significant increase in grades in math, science, and reading. One of many great resources to look at is the American Mindfulness Research Monthly. They post a monthly newsletter that highlights mindfulness research studies (including the significance of a daily practice) that are being published. So far, great things have come from most of the studies and I look forward to even greater things as we start to help the next generation by teaching them mindfulness.
I could go on and on about why we should practice mindfulness daily, the best statement was said by Dr. Dan Siegel that mindfulness practices are to cognitive health what teeth brushing is to dental health. Need I say more?