Tips of the Trade – Pathway to Mindfulness

Mindfulness has become a buzz word, but really, what is it all about? In a nutshell, mindfulness is living in the present moment, enjoying and appreciating life, without letting past baggage or future worries intrude.

The way to achieve mindfulness in all aspects of your life is to develop a sustainable, 20-minutes-a-day insight meditation practice that changes behaviors and strengthens your mind. Here’s how your life will change:

  • Stress:  75 percent of Americans are stressed. 75 percent of preventable diseases are caused by stress. Unfortunately, most of us cannot escape stress but we can change how it affects us. Through meditation you learn to notice stressful thoughts and focus on what you are feeling in the present moment, without blocking, denying or getting lost in them. When you are dealing with only the stressful situation – not thinking about past occurrences or agonizing about the future – you worry less and accept things as they are without judgment or criticism, the natural way to handle stress.

  • Focus: Studies show our minds wander 47 percent of the time, which means employees are actually working a little over four hours during a typical eight-hour day. During meditation you learn to focus on your breath, and when your mind begins wandering, you notice and return to the breath. That constantly returning to your breath builds neural pathways that increase your ability to focus, naturally boosting your productivity.

  • Decision-making: There is a measurably thicker prefrontal cortex in the minds of meditators, the area of your brain that is responsible for decision-making, impulse control and regulating attention, emotions and actions. You become razor-sharp and able to remain focused and calm.

  • Strategic thinking: No matter your age, meditation helps us build a thicker cortex in the hippocampus, which puts things into perspective, improves executive functioning skills and boosts working memory. You will stay sharper throughout your life.

  • Communications: Through meditation you learn the importance of listening without interrupting and how to respond in a calm, focused and in-control manner. When a stressful situation or annoying person pops up you remain calm, able to diffuse what could turn into a contentious exchange. It is estimated that managers devote a quarter of their time to resolving conflicts at work. Imagine a workday minus those conflicts?

Val Foster and Bill Van Ollefen, owners of Pathway to Mindfulness, a member of The Life Solution Center of Darien, teach their clients how to develop a sustainable meditation practice that can change behavioral patterns and strengthen brains. They teach individuals and groups, and in corporate settings. For more information, call 203-636-0080 or visit

In these uncertain times of the COVID-19 crisis, your mental health and well-being are more important than ever.

Many of our practitioners are happy to conduct video, FaceTime or telephone sessions in order to provide you with safe and effective continuity of care.

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