One of the benefits of mindfulness is that it develops our sense of control. To use an analogy, we begin to realise that we are the one pushing the buttons – our buttons are not being pushed by others, events or the environment.
As we grow in mindfulness, we begin to experience control over our emotions and our responses. We are less at the mercy of our triggers, panic attacks and other sources of stress. We develop a growing sense of control over ourselves and our environment.
Mindful breathing, for example, is just one practice that enables us to gain control – control over our breathing which is essential to life.
In her 2017 book, The Influential Mind, neuroscientist Tali Sharot argues that:
The brain has evolved to control our bodies so that our bodies can manipulate our environments…Our biology is set up so that we are driven to be causal agents; we are internally rewarded with a feeling of satisfaction when we are in control, and internally punished with anxiety when we are not. (p.102)
Tali Sharot demonstrates through research findings that we have a very high need for control. She maintains, for example, that aerophobia – the fear of flying – is essentially about the loss of control, we are in the “hands” of the pilot and the plane. She suggests that suicide is an extreme response to the sense of being out of control, unable to control anything in one’s internal or external environment.
Tali Sharot draws on further research to argue that “people who feel in control are happier and healthier” (p. 95). As you practice mindfulness, you increase your sense of control over your internal and external environments and enhance your health and happiness.
The more you practice mindfulness, the more you experience the sense of being in control and realise the positive benefits of mindful practice.
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