By Dr. David Graham MD
Benefits of Mindfulness in Retirement
Mindfulness has proven health benefits both in and out of the hospital. There is no doubt in my mind that you can improve your life and benefit from mindfulness in retirement.
Mindfulness is intentional and non-judgmental awareness of the moment. Do you remember how long days used to seem when you were a kid? That’s because you were mindful.
It is time you partake in mindfulness. The data are there. The only thing stopping you are the self-limiting beliefs that you personally don’t need mindfulness in your life.
What is Mindfulness?
Awareness without judgment of self-criticism is a fair definition of mindfulness. Understand that a variation of this has been practiced by all major historic religions. But we scientific folk need more evidence than usefulness in the barbaric, non-statistically significant past.
What is mindfulness? When a thought arises in your mind, you don’t compare it or judge it. Witness the thought and be present; allow it to flow spiced by curiosity and filled with self-kindness.
You don’t always need to be 100% aware all the time. In fact, most of the time, you live in the middle.
But understanding the other side of the spectrum, what is the badness you are trying to avoid? Living on automatic means you avoid mindfulness.
Think about the number of times you drive back and forth to school and then work. How many moments of that massive amount of wasted time do you actually remember? Certainly, a wreck, or maybe bad news on the phone. Living on automatic allows years of your life to pass by unnoticed. Mindfulness tries to rescue those passed-by life years by creating flow and reminiscing those long childhood days full of spontaneity and adventure.
What are the symptoms of a lack of mindfulness in your life?
Symptoms of Mindfulness Deficiency
If you don’t have something that resembles mindfulness in your life, you might feel like you are really busy all the time and never get a break. If you don’t get an actual break in your life where you spend time taking care of yourself, where you can slow down and greet each moment like an old friend, you will develop a gap.
This gap is the source of the symptoms of mindfulness deficiency. Living on automatic isn’t a sin or crime, but life passes you by as if on fast forward. You miss the good stuff, too, when you hit the skip button too many times in your life. We all fall into habits that reflect our inattention. Inattentive habits result in a gap.
https://37c8ed91c4fcb738aab053a7a1965acf.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-40/html/container.htmlThe gap is what you lose in lost experiences in life. Nothing happens when you are on automatic. Thus you have no memory of it. But actually, when nothing happens in your life, there is a vague discontent.
Mindfulness deficiency makes you not fit your own skin. Wherever you go, you are a bit uncomfortable. There may be a buzzing in the back of your mind to help you remain uncomfortable. There is a gap.
A gap between us and everyone (and everything) else leads to unhappiness. You just are out of sync and feel almost hungover all the time.
Our human capacity to plan is a unique gift, which leads to a waste of emotional and mental energy and even anxiety. We over-plan for many future multiverses, none of which appear. A gap and overplanning lead to fantasy.
Fantasy and Mindfulness
We all love an excursion into personal fantasy. Now you create a new me, one more successful, talented, wealthy, loved, and just famous enough to allow anonymity at Starbucks. Often times when your mind is on automatic, you might suffer one of these fantasies where you never arrive. Just a waste of mental energy, this leapfrogging into a desert of fantasy.
Fantasy plays a good role, too, as the horn of creativity. In any field you might imagine, fantasy initiates the creative process, leading to breakthroughs and every minor improvement in systems.
Within mindfulness, days are longer as you have more time to consider life that is not a fantasy provided by living life on automatic. Fantasy is not an escape; rather, it is the lifeblood of your passionate expression of today’s intention.
Don’t allow fantasy as an escape, a mindless waste of energy with repeated fruitless excursions into the future or past fantasy realms. Fantasy-right-now allows expanded access to your sensations and to your creativity. As you live in the moment, you find flow overtakes time, and you are just about right in that moment.
Otherwise, fantasy is like picking a scab. A waste of the mind’s energy considering thoughts that have been passed over as irrelevant yet still come in front of your conscious. We have a negativity bias, and 70% of our thoughts are negative. We have a recovery bias, and more likely than not, our next thought will resemble the most recent thought – A negative one. Don’t listen to that voice in your mind. It is not you.
Mindfulness in Your Daily Life
Mindfulness lets you live more in harmony with your daily life. There will be challenges and worse every day; view them as a Stotic and accept the challenge while looking for the optimal solution that foils the challenges’ attempt at ruining your equanimity. And if you should come across an actual bad trauma in your life, mindfulness gives you a gap. A second to breathe. Take that opportunity up and do a quick breathing exercise to go from sympathetic to parasympathetic. Your brain doesn’t differentiate between trauma you have or trauma you think about. If triggered, this is the time to take a second and practice kindness and self-compassion. What is the best thing you can do for yourself in these most difficult moments?
Mindfulness in your daily life might give you that extra second where you can decide to react rather than respond.
Meditation is one good way to access mindfulness.
Self-acceptance is another way to start practicing mindfulness.
Especially of the story you are telling yourself right now.
Neuroanatomic Correlation with Mindfulness
Mindfulness causes physical changes in the brain. This is neuroplasticity and affects the size and volume of parts of the brain. Mindfulness allows other brain pathways to develop, and what fires together wires together.
We know the brain actually gets larger in certain areas with mindfulness. Thus the mind can shape the brain, which produces the mind. Fascinating.
Proven Health Benefits of Mindfulness
What are the proven health benefits of mindfulness?
- “Left Shift” This isn’t hematology; this is neuroanatomy, so what we actually mean by left shift is an increase in activity of the left frontal lobe. This is a big deal because it allows approach behavior to challenges rather than avoidance. In other words, a left shift lets you get stuff done and make progress on your intentions. Importantly, the left shift is the neural basis of resilience. If you practice mindfulness, you are more resilient to life’s inevitable challenges because instead of running away, you approach the problems and thus are more likely to solve the challenges of your day.
- Left Shift also correlates with improved immune function.
- Patients just feel better with mindfulness, stable and clear
- Proven in OCD, BPD, and addictions
Summary- Mindfulness in Retirement
Mindfulness aids in concentration but is separate. If you want to be a better doctor or retiree, practice mindfulness. The data is really good, supporting it.
It is simple metacognition, being aware you are thinking and gently reflecting on the content of the thinking without pause, allowing it to flow through you without judgment or comparison.
This is openhearted living. You are no longer living automaticly.
The goal is for the thinking mind to naturally calm down. Anchor your thought to the energy flows of your body rather than to those of the monkey mind.
Anything you are mindful of will open itself to you if you attend to it carefully and patiently. As you discover self-identity, you grow and become mindful. As you become more mindful, you grow and discover self-identity.
Mindfulness plays a role in money in your retirement, too, that will help you succeed moving to de-accumulation of yourself and your assets.
See the note from the author below:
“I retired from a Small Town Montana practice of Infectious Diseases. After discovering Financial Independence, I studied and passed the CFP exam and now provide Advice-Only Hourly Retirement Planning. I believe the Advice-Only model of financial planning has the fewest conflicts of interest, and the best value for the price.”
Dr. David Graham is the author of Fiphysician.com
He can be reached at David@FiPhysician.com