What is Mindfulness (and how is its index measured?)

What is Mindfulness Index and how does Dhyana measure it”

Article by: Bhairav Shankar

When I first asked someone this question, they told me mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. Mindlessness, according to them, was this state in a car when you’re just doing the motions without thought or attention, you’re just mindlessly moving through the motions.

For the longest time I believed this to be true, until one day I too was mindlessly driving through the streets and a puppy came onto the road. I hit the breaks without even thinking. I stopped the moment I saw something out there which I could hurt.

That reaction wasn’t mindless, it was reflex. My mind seemed to have behaved in a very nonchalant manner until it realised it was needed. I wasn’t distracted or going through the motions, I was aware of my surroundings, and my conscious mind pounced in once it instantly recognised it was needed.

This lead me to realise that what I had considered mindlessness is in fact mindfulness.

Mindfulness isn’t always being on and aware. Yet it’s not one where we’re dull and switched off. It’s a state in between, where the mind seems to be both on and off at the same time.

As I read the words I’ve written, I realise I’m beginning to speak in riddles, so let me try to unravel this with a blatant definition to mindfulness:

Mindfulness is a state where the subconscious mind takes over the activities of the conscious mind and the conscious mind is completely relaxed.

That didn’t help much did it? Let’s try a more visual approach.

Imagine you have two brains. One brain is the one which thinks and feels, and a second brain that simply does work you’re not really bothered about like your breathing, your heart beat, your digestion etc.

Let’s imagine that you discover a new recipe, and want to make it. Your first brain becomes active, it’s reading the recipe, measuring ingredients, analysing cook times, and deciding whether it needs more salt or not.

The second time you make this recipe, the first brain doesn’t need to compute as much, it just needs to access its memory, maybe you’ll want to recheck the recipe another time just to make sure you don’t mess up.

By the tenth time you’re making this recipe, you’re no longer analysing the recipe, you know what’s next. Your body seems to be moving and doing things without even needing to think about it. You’ve handed over this task from the first brain to the second brain.

Throughout our lives we’ve handed over so many tasks to our second brain, from brushing our teeth, to washing our hands, things seem to just happen without a thought. Yet when we’re brushing, cooking a recipe for the tenth time or washing our hands, our mind undoubtedly wanders. This wandering is natural due to the unfettered, unrestrained free time we’ve given the first brain.

While the first brain is wandering, if we can use the second brain to resist the temptation to latch onto a thought or emotion, then we’re being mindful. Mindful not of our surroundings, but of our mind itself.

So what is meditation then?

Meditation is the activity that helps train our subconscious (or second brain) to be mindful. Remember how Mr. Miyagi’s wax-on and wax-off made Daniel’s karate moves so fast and fluid, meditation is a similar form of muscle memory training, targeting our biggest muscle: The brain.

There are numerous meditation practices across the world, but they while their techniques may differ, they can be broken into three main types:

  1. Breathing meditation Train the mind to focus on the breath, and pull your attention to it. Breathe at certain pattern to begin to create a form of rhythm that begins to relax your body and mind. With practise, the subconscious mind is now fully attune to your breathing pattern and jumps into in a second. The pattern grounds the conscious mind, i.e. when the mind becomes preoccupied with a certain thought or emotion, the subconscious mind gently pulls its attention away by noticing the pattern. Examples of this type of meditation are: SKY meditation, Vim Hof methods, Pranayama.
  2. Relaxing meditation Train the mind to relax, by moving its attention away from the head. Some methods move your attention to different parts of your body to bring it some calm, some others make your visualise your mind elsewhere peaceful so you can find your inner-peace there. With practise your mind naturally becomes relaxed, and needs no conscious intervention to reach it, and the relaxation itself ground the mind, i.e. when your mind is attached to a thought, the relaxed state gets disturbed and the subconscious mind detaches the conscious mind from it. Examples of this type of meditation include Tibetan Maitri form of meditation, Yoga Nidra and Buddhist Vipassana.
  3. Focussing meditation Train the mind to focus on a particular point, object or place. Different methods have different focussing methods, where you focus on a particular part of your body, or focus on a visualisation you’ve created with your mind. The idea is to focus and have a targeted attention on something, and that focus ground the mind thereby allowing any distraction of the conscious mind from that focus be noticed and immediately rectified. Types of meditation are Heartfulness, Vedic meditation and Sufi chanting meditation.

Now that we have understood mindfulness and meditation, the next question that needs to be answered, especially in the context of Dhyana, is: Can mindfulness be measured?

Let me begin with a confession: mindfulness cannot be measured by anyone or anything, not a ring, nor a headband, not even by a Neurosurgeon. Mindfulness is experiential and hence as hard to define as consciousness or awareness. So what does dhyana mean when it says ‘Mindfulness Index’ or ‘Mindful Minutes’?

What dhyana actually measures is your performance in these types of meditation. The assumption it makes is that the better you perform at a particular type of meditation,( i.e. maintain a rhythm in your breathing, be relaxed throughout or harness your focus) the better your mind is at being mindful.

Imagine a pipe carrying water into a tank. Dhyana doesn’t measure the amount of water at the tank to see how much water there is, rather it measures the flow of water near the pipe’s mouth to make sure it’s coming through and not how much of that water ends up in the tank.

In that sense, the measurement of Mindful minutes or Mindful index, are based on the ability of the person to maintain their state of meditation throughout their exercise. If one is able to maintain their breathing rhythm, their relaxation or focus for five minutes out of ten, then their mindfulness index is shown as 50%.

Dhyana’s meditations also are not purely one form of meditation alone. Most of the meditations are a mix between different forms, and include some breathing, relaxation and focus meditations inside a single module. In such cases, the mindfulness index is the average of one’s performance in all three.

Weekly view of Mindfulness Index shows changes in user’s mindfulness ability during the week
Monthly view of Mindfulness Index shows the user’s ability to expect the amount of time he can be mindful for on average

Mindfulness index reveals information about our ability to stay and remain mindful, which keeps changing throughout the day, week, month and year. Take the sample graphs above, mindfulness index seems to be changing by ±10% over a course of a week, but the change week on week seems to be less than ±3%, indicating one’s overall ability to remain mindful to be around 30% of the time that they choose to be, but that day-to-day it would change depending on the particular circumstances. With practice, one’s ability to remain mindful for long stretches of time keeps improving, indicating a greater ability to initiate and remain mindful.

This knowledge is especially useful when our aim is to make mindfulness a part of our our daily lives, and not something we accomplish when we do a particular task or meditation.

The concept of knowing, analysing and reworking ourselves is at the very heart of wellness. it’s perfectly encapsulated in the first step of any forward moving program, i.e. Acceptance. Mindfulness index is an exercise in understanding our own body, so we can take the necessary steps to par what we thought we’re capable of doing.

What is Mindfulness Index and how does Dhyana measure it”

Article by: Bhairav Shankar

When I first asked someone this question, they told me mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. Mindlessness, according to them, was this state in a car when you’re just doing the motions without thought or attention, you’re just mindlessly moving through the motions.

For the longest time I believed this to be true, until one day I too was mindlessly driving through the streets and a puppy came onto the road. I hit the breaks without even thinking. I stopped the moment I saw something out there which I could hurt.

That reaction wasn’t mindless, it was reflex. My mind seemed to have behaved in a very nonchalant manner until it realised it was needed. I wasn’t distracted or going through the motions, I was aware of my surroundings, and my conscious mind pounced in once it instantly recognised it was needed.

This lead me to realise that what I had considered mindlessness is in fact mindfulness.

Mindfulness isn’t always being on and aware. Yet it’s not one where we’re dull and switched off. It’s a state in between, where the mind seems to be both on and off at the same time.

As I read the words I’ve written, I realise I’m beginning to speak in riddles, so let me try to unravel this with a blatant definition to mindfulness:

Mindfulness is a state where the subconscious mind takes over the activities of the conscious mind and the conscious mind is completely relaxed.

That didn’t help much did it? Let’s try a more visual approach.

Imagine you have two brains. One brain is the one which thinks and feels, and a second brain that simply does work you’re not really bothered about like your breathing, your heart beat, your digestion etc.

Let’s imagine that you discover a new recipe, and want to make it. Your first brain becomes active, it’s reading the recipe, measuring ingredients, analysing cook times, and deciding whether it needs more salt or not.

The second time you make this recipe, the first brain doesn’t need to compute as much, it just needs to access its memory, maybe you’ll want to recheck the recipe another time just to make sure you don’t mess up.

By the tenth time you’re making this recipe, you’re no longer analysing the recipe, you know what’s next. Your body seems to be moving and doing things without even needing to think about it. You’ve handed over this task from the first brain to the second brain.

Throughout our lives we’ve handed over so many tasks to our second brain, from brushing our teeth, to washing our hands, things seem to just happen without a thought. Yet when we’re brushing, cooking a recipe for the tenth time or washing our hands, our mind undoubtedly wanders. This wandering is natural due to the unfettered, unrestrained free time we’ve given the first brain.

While the first brain is wandering, if we can use the second brain to resist the temptation to latch onto a thought or emotion, then we’re being mindful. Mindful not of our surroundings, but of our mind itself.

So what is meditation then?

Meditation is the activity that helps train our subconscious (or second brain) to be mindful. Remember how Mr. Miyagi’s wax-on and wax-off made Daniel’s karate moves so fast and fluid, meditation is a similar form of muscle memory training, targeting our biggest muscle: The brain.

There are numerous meditation practices across the world, but they while their techniques may differ, they can be broken into three main types:

  1. Breathing meditation Train the mind to focus on the breath, and pull your attention to it. Breathe at certain pattern to begin to create a form of rhythm that begins to relax your body and mind. With practise, the subconscious mind is now fully attune to your breathing pattern and jumps into in a second. The pattern grounds the conscious mind, i.e. when the mind becomes preoccupied with a certain thought or emotion, the subconscious mind gently pulls its attention away by noticing the pattern. Examples of this type of meditation are: SKY meditation, Vim Hof methods, Pranayama.
  2. Relaxing meditation Train the mind to relax, by moving its attention away from the head. Some methods move your attention to different parts of your body to bring it some calm, some others make your visualise your mind elsewhere peaceful so you can find your inner-peace there. With practise your mind naturally becomes relaxed, and needs no conscious intervention to reach it, and the relaxation itself ground the mind, i.e. when your mind is attached to a thought, the relaxed state gets disturbed and the subconscious mind detaches the conscious mind from it. Examples of this type of meditation include Tibetan Maitri form of meditation, Yoga Nidra and Buddhist Vipassana.
  3. Focussing meditation Train the mind to focus on a particular point, object or place. Different methods have different focussing methods, where you focus on a particular part of your body, or focus on a visualisation you’ve created with your mind. The idea is to focus and have a targeted attention on something, and that focus ground the mind thereby allowing any distraction of the conscious mind from that focus be noticed and immediately rectified. Types of meditation are Heartfulness, Vedic meditation and Sufi chanting meditation.

Now that we have understood mindfulness and meditation, the next question that needs to be answered, especially in the context of Dhyana, is: Can mindfulness be measured?

Let me begin with a confession: mindfulness cannot be measured by anyone or anything, not a ring, nor a headband, not even by a Neurosurgeon. Mindfulness is experiential and hence as hard to define as consciousness or awareness. So what does dhyana mean when it says ‘Mindfulness Index’ or ‘Mindful Minutes’?

What dhyana actually measures is your performance in these types of meditation. The assumption it makes is that the better you perform at a particular type of meditation,( i.e. maintain a rhythm in your breathing, be relaxed throughout or harness your focus) the better your mind is at being mindful.

Imagine a pipe carrying water into a tank. Dhyana doesn’t measure the amount of water at the tank to see how much water there is, rather it measures the flow of water near the pipe’s mouth to make sure it’s coming through and not how much of that water ends up in the tank.

In that sense, the measurement of Mindful minutes or Mindful index, are based on the ability of the person to maintain their state of meditation throughout their exercise. If one is able to maintain their breathing rhythm, their relaxation or focus for five minutes out of ten, then their mindfulness index is shown as 50%.

Dhyana’s meditations also are not purely one form of meditation alone. Most of the meditations are a mix between different forms, and include some breathing, relaxation and focus meditations inside a single module. In such cases, the mindfulness index is the average of one’s performance in all three.

Weekly view of Mindfulness Index shows changes in user’s mindfulness ability during the week
Monthly view of Mindfulness Index shows the user’s ability to expect the amount of time he can be mindful for on average

Mindfulness index reveals information about our ability to stay and remain mindful, which keeps changing throughout the day, week, month and year. Take the sample graphs above, mindfulness index seems to be changing by ±10% over a course of a week, but the change week on week seems to be less than ±3%, indicating one’s overall ability to remain mindful to be around 30% of the time that they choose to be, but that day-to-day it would change depending on the particular circumstances. With practice, one’s ability to remain mindful for long stretches of time keeps improving, indicating a greater ability to initiate and remain mindful.

This knowledge is especially useful when our aim is to make mindfulness a part of our our daily lives, and not something we accomplish when we do a particular task or meditation.

The concept of knowing, analysing and reworking ourselves is at the very heart of wellness. it’s perfectly encapsulated in the first step of any forward moving program, i.e. Acceptance. Mindfulness index is an exercise in understanding our own body, so we can take the necessary steps to par what we thought we’re capable of doing.

More Articles


Accepted payment methods:

Cards

Paypal

Connect with us:

Dhyana is made in India by Avantari
+91 9346 2056 75 | support@smartdhyana.com



Accepted payment methods:

Cards

Paypal

Dhyana is made in India by Avantari
+91 9346 2056 75 | support@smartdhyana.com



Accepted payment methods:

Cards

Paypal

Connect with us:

Dhyana is made in India by Avantari
+91 9346 2056 75 | support@smartdhyana.com