Mindfulness and Emotional intelligence -the way to a peaceful and tolerant world
There was a time in my training as a doctor, I used to always believe that intelligence and hard work were 2 most important factors that decide the outcome of any situation.This stayed with me for many years but one fine day 4 years back I had a couple of patients of the same age group with end stage stomach cancer who had a maximum survival of 3-4 months .Like every doctor,I gave the family bad news and explained to them the prognosis.This is one of the most difficult jobs for any doctor.Both the families wanted me to tell the respective patients the truth so they can plan their last days,the way they want to live.
The most striking thing I found that one patient took it really well and told me, "its good the days are limited. I can plan well in advance so wont have any regrets" while the other lady was in tears and was very depressed .It seemed just two different approaches to me but the outcome really shocked me.The first lady who was "positive" about the news lived for a good one and half year and the other lady could not survive for more than three months .This made me realize there was something missing which I did not know or learn. Hence I spoke to the relatives if she had any treatment which they clearly said no.
I will share some facts I came to know from them.She had decided that she will never cry from the day I shared the news with her and made a resolution to find every opportunity to help people not just financially but also by giving them time.She decide to have the best time of her life in that period.But my highly intelligent brain could not understand, how the flow of dopamine can delay cell death.I tried to find many research studies which agreed with the facts but none could support the theory until and unless one day I came across an article by Daniel Goleman which said "Happiness was a default state of our mind. When we are in that default state our immunity level and well being automatically goes up".On further research I came to know that it is very much possible to be in that state for sustained period for people who practice mindfulness meditation.I have been doing meditation since last 20 years but it always appealed to me as you become calm and peaceful.....Happiness for sustained period was a revelation to me .Without change in the behavior it didnt seem possible.I always believed that cognitive therapy were essential for bringing about behavioral changes in this highly materialistic and fast life but was suprised that one can use mindfulness to bring about these changes.
The basic neuroscience behind mindfulness has been extensively researched in the last decade. It is found that the prefrontal lobe alias neobrain actually develops by the age of 18-20 years. The prefrontal lobe is the one responsible for regulation of our thoughts and amygdala also known as repitilian or primitive brain is responsible for firing our emotions is functional as early as first year of life.So in early childhood the emotional instability like anger, ADHD and impulsive behavior are unchecked and children are impulsive to stressful situations. Humans are the only mammals who have to depend on the guidance of the elders for such a long time.This being an important phase of life as most of our behaviors and thought processes are formed.
A disturbed childhood leads to issues of emotional imbalance,impulsive behavior, lack of empathy,poor acceptance of contradictory opinions,distorted self image and intolerance to negative views .All this ultimately leads to poor relationships,poor team building,flawed decision making,weaker self regulation.A research done on criminals involved in frequent illegal activities in U.S was found that the prefrontal lobes of the criminals who were frequently involved in crime were not adequately developed.It may not be as extreme in all cases but may contribute to different levels as per the child's experience and their training in handling difficult situations.These skills are also known as the Emotional Quotient(EQ) of an individual.EQ happens to be the highly sought out skills for companies when hiring employees also popularly known as soft skills.Also research has shown people with high EQ have a more successful future both personally and professionally as compared to higher IQ .
So the good news is like Intelligence Quotient cannot be increased beyond the adolescent age, Emotional quotient can be trained and increased anytime in life.It is highly difficult to train these highly sought out skills by simply motivational talks or cognitive therapy.Here is where mindfulness has become highly effective in getting about behavioral changes with a regular practice
Jon Kobat Zinc defined Mindfulness as awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementaly .Another way to describe it is to consciously bring our attention to the present moment .It can be practiced anywhere unlike meditation where you need a particular place and posture. It is also described as "a skill beyond meditation" . Since mindfulness is secular, it does not interfere with anyone's religious beliefs. Mindfulness gives people the freedom of choice to refuse or accept the emotion which is best suited to them.Every person deserves the choice to choose his reaction before any conflict so he can respond with confidence.
A regular mindfulness practitioner tend to have a better control over the emotional hijack and can react in a way which he desires to.They develop a higher emotional intelligence and aware not only of their emotions and also of people around them.The human mind has a high social quest which is difficult to achieve without high emotional intelligence.Being in control of the negative emotions generating within you gives every individual the amazing power of choice which is reflected in a higher self esteem . Although emotions may come and go but mindfulness gives you the choice to suffer or not.People have a default future which is bound to happen ,Learning mindfulness and emotional intelligence one can change this and follow the miracle they always believed in . My dream is to reach maximum people and train these amazing skills of mindfulness and make the world more peaceful and tolerant.What started with the most bitter truth of human life i.e death ended up changing my life. I have been teaching mindfulness and emotional intelligence to many people since a couple of years but in reality I feel indebted to them as with every person I train ,I feel I am changing the world.