How mindful are you?

18 September 2017


Being in good shape for later is something you can never start early enough. It’s like running a marathon: you’ll never finish one unless you start training ahead of time. Mindfulness has proven to be an amazing solution to a large number of health issues. It boosts self-confidence, reduces anxiety and, hopefully in the near future, will be an important part of your mentally and physically healthy retirement. But what is it really, and how does it work?

Waking up, taking a shower, driving to work, doing the shopping, cooking supper… When you think about it, it’s almost scary how often you are going through the motions of your routine while your head is completely occupied with things in the past or the future. As you eat breakfast, you’re thinking about what to cook for supper; in the car, you’re going over your schedule for the day; in the office, you can’t get your mind off all the things you have to do tomorrow. While most people go through life on automatic pilot, mindfulness teaches you how to do exactly the opposite: live right now, not later. Whether you’re stuck in traffic, doing your weekly shopping, at work, or on the toilet.

Scientific evidence
Unlike other “quests for enlightenment”, like yoga, Pilates or many forms of meditation, the effect of mindfulness has been scientifically demonstrated. British and American research has proven that people who engage in mindfulness regularly have increased brain activity in the left cortex of the brain, the area where positive emotions are generated. In other words, mindfulness makes you happy. Other studies have shown that mindfulness also leads to a stronger immune system, reduces stress in the body and has a positive effect on depression. And the best part is that everyone can learn it – but it does take practice.

Mindful in traffic
The practice of mindfulness has its origins in Buddhism. Professionals have extracted all the individual elements of “attention training”, as it is also known in this country, from their religious and cultural contexts and developed them into an official, eight-week educational programme that you can follow anywhere in the Netherlands. The training puts you to work in an accessible manner on practical exercises like paying attention to how you are sitting on the couch, running for your train, breathing, driving your car or brushing your teeth. These exercises help you integrate “being in the now” into the ordinary acts of your everyday life.

Step by step
You can also get started with mindfulness on your own. You don’t have to spend your life being mindful all day every day; it’s good enough to start with stopping a few times a day to think about what you are doing at any given moment. Focus a few times per day on your breathing, open the door with your full attention, chew the same bite of food ten times while you think about what you’re smelling, what you’re feeling, what you’re tasting. Mindfulness is a tool to help you learn, step by step, what life means and what is truly important to you.

How financially fit are you?
Besides a healthy life, you want a healthy pension. By staying aware of the pension market and react to it in a flexible way, we keep your pension in top condition. Do you already have a pension scheme with BeFrank? Then you can see how your pension is doing on your Personal Pension page. Here you will also find the most important updates. Do you not have a pension scheme with BeFrank yet? Ask your employer about the possibilities.