Symmetry of Consciousness, original oil, 2007
Source: original oil, Frank John Ninivaggi
There is a tool in the psychological toolbox that optimizes well-being and job performance: mindfulness.
Satisfactory life engagement encompasses overall well-being, physical wellness, emotional stability, and social productivity. Disruptions to mindful stability are emotional and cognitive distractions typically triggered by anxiety, leading to burnout. Emotional regulation is literacy in recognizing, evaluating, and managing feelings triggered by the extremes of everyday life.
Emotional dysregulation is maladaptive because it predisposes to risk factors leading to mood instability, irritability, and negative feelings underlying frustration, disappointment, anger, helplessness, and the despondency of “quiet quitting.”
This discussion focuses on using the tool of mindful breathing to foster resilience and minimize risk, burnout, apathy, and hopelessness. Consciousness used in this way is not novel. Understanding mindfulness as a natural and age-old mindset makes learning techniques to achieve integrative life engagement renewed with meaning and practical value. Such integration enriches the coordination of optimized physical wellness, psychological balance, and social value.
What Is Modern Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a biomental state of purposeful, present-focused attentional vividness. “Biomental” as an aggregating concept brings together biological and psychological awareness for mindful living. Beginning with intentional guidance to enhance focus, mindful states induce mental equanimity—a symmetry of consciousness.
This plain simplification transcends complexity with its dynamism. Monitoring one’s present-moment experience with acceptance—mindfulness—means that ordinary evaluative and judgmental connotations are dropped. Taking a pause, along with constructive reflection can replace reflexive negative criticisms with superior-inferior judgments.
Intentional and purposeful perception is receptive. Accepting what appears in thoughts, feelings, and sensations is to gently witness them as they arise and fade. However, any state of prolonged lingering with the mind’s contents is not releasing them.
“Letting go” is central to mindful witnessing. Learning to let go of the stickiness of thoughts and feelings is a process learned progressively. Additionally, mental operations anticipate that “more” always exists. Identifying this as a driver of thinking helps modulate, not eliminate, it, so a "learned pacing" tempers this insatiable matrix of clinging to the need to think ceaselessly.
Mindful experience toggles the active-passive dynamic. At first, the activity is a gently guided restructuring of how one thinks. Gradually, mindfulness becomes more natural, and its active-passive descriptors fade. One begins to merely observe the mental representatives of external events and one’s bodily sensations. Mindfulness has results on at least two functional levels: personal well-being and job performance.
Job Performance Improvement Versus Burnout
Personal well-being is a sweeping change in improving body, mind, and consciousness. Anxiety, a free-floating sense of tension, arises when thoughts and feelings are judged problematic. Since mindfulness, as a perspective and a technique, helps to clarify thinking, it reduces anxiety naturally. A clearer mind is less prone to holding problems deemed unresolvable.
The critical ability to let go and merely witness inner experiences minimizes judgmental attitudes, including reactively seeing things critically. Mindfulness “decouples” the self from harsh feelings and ideas, thus increasing the flow through life more effortlessly. Openness, horizons, and healthy curiosity expand. One learns to look beyond what is close at hand—not to look away from it, but to see it better.
Learning to manage one’s thoughts supports self-regulation. Reactivity and impulsivity lessen. Such an “even-mindedness” also aids stability and mood regulation; thus, distressing emotional arousal quiets.
Job performance versus burnout is a challenge that mindfulness skillfully tackles in three core domains: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a sense of inefficacy.
Mindful perspectives, a rich awareness of discriminatory detail, and the non-avoidance of aversive thoughts allow us to stay open and curious. This receptivity is a latent preparation for handling situations with error-making potential. Thus, a more nuanced appreciation of specific contexts supports flexibility in one’s options. This ability is a subtle refusal to remain on autopilot or succumb to the anxiety predisposing one to job errors. This sensitivity helps to prevent the normalization of mindlessly performing job functions, which often results in preventable errors.
Therapeutic Breathing for Mindful “Life Engagement”
The physical body exists in the radical present. Paying attention to it has the power to draw one into the moment, showing how to settle into the vividness of an unfolding experience.
The skill of therapeutic breathing goes beyond everyday routine, but it starts with intentional guidelines. The skill requires putting oneself in a quiet place, remaining still, and focusing on the flow of the breathing cycles and their egress and entry centers on the nostrils. Timing, flexible and contextual, starts with a slow inhalation of about four six-counts, a pause of about five eight-counts, and a longer exhalation of about nine ten-counts. Some systems call this "box" or "square" breathing; this diaphragmatic or belly breathing is deep rather than shallow or superficial. Three to ten repetitions once or more per day help can modulate stress and anxiety.
The entire practice is slow, intentional, and unhurried. The mind is cleared from wandering thoughts and feelings by receiving what flows in, accepting it, lingering for a while, then gently allowing it to drift away. Perceptions, conceptions, and emotions are apprehended openly, non-judgmentally, and then let go freely.
Mindful Life Engagement
Life engagement is a 21st-century biopsychosocial concept emphasizing the optimal integration of daily life in its physical, emotional, intellectual, and social dimensions. These expand when one listens for unforeseen surprises in previously unknown places and then reflects on what their unrecognized meanings may uncover. Epiphanies may take the form of previously unseen problem-solving strategies, new perspectives, or adventurous paths forward. Stepping out of the ordinary and surrendering to non-routine but safe ideas, experiences, and events prepare one for unconventional truths.
Mindfulness is a perspective learned through time, and therapeutic breathing is a way to support its development. The technique is a form of stress modulation and its by-product is significant anxiety-reduction. Thus, personal well-being and job performance benefit. This framework can be a way to navigate one’s psychological experience, bringing to it a more creative organization, clarity, and mental equanimity, a symmetry of consciousness.