Living Mindfully with Aruna Manathunge:
Improving EQ, IQ and creativity
The participants of a Mindfulness program were given a single raisin
after lunch. Their Mindfulness Coach informed that they would be eating
it over a period of 5 minutes! They were asked to hold the raisin on
their palms and patiently observe it with all their attention. They
noticed the tiny colour variations and the small indentation where it
once hung from the vine.
were asked to close their eyes and feel the tiny weight of the single
raisin. After some similar exercises, they were told to place it in
their mouths and roll the wrinkly little thing over and over with their
tongue, feeling the texture. Finally they are gently guided to bite,
chew and swallow it.
The above was an event from a Mindfulness training program that
happened in Koralawella, Moratuwa. The Raisin Exercise trains the
participants to really focus their attention on one thing at a time.
As a result they started discovering the benefits of living in the
moment with complete attention. They found it almost magical because
they began to notice, experience and savour a raisin in a special way
for the first time in their life.The raisins exercise reminds us of how
hard it is to focus our attention on one object at a time and observe it
without rapidly shifting attention. Our fast spaced lives have
compounded the situation. We talk on the phone while typing on the
computer. We watch TV while munching a snack and talk to our spouse or
child at the same time.
Our devices and the busy lifestyles allow us to do many things at
once-but at the cost of being unable to fully use our faculties as
humans. This not only leads to higher levels of Stress but also results
in poor relationships and lower levels of productivity outputs which
tends to be mediocre in the long run.
A radical shift
Practicing Mindfulness regularly can help us to do better. We can
look at Mindfulness as a radical shift in the way we pay attention. It
is learning to be attentive in a special way. It's a skill that anyone
can develop, and one that can have real benefits for those living busy
lifestyles. At one level, the techniques associated with Mindfulness
help practitioners quiet a busy mind, become more aware of the present
moment and be less caught up in what happened earlier or what's to come.
Mindfulness teachers recommend this as a means to deal with Stress.
But to view Mindfulness simply as a stress reliever underplays its
immense potential as a practice that can uplift the overall potential
available to us as humans. Its true potential has come to light as a
result of the latest research advancements in Neuroscience.
Studies have shown that Mindfulness increases the grey
matter/cortical thickness in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which
is a structure located behind the brain's frontal Lobe. It has been
associated with functions such as self-regulatory process, including the
ability to monitor attention conflicts and thereby allow greater
Regular practice of Mindfulness also enhances grey matter density in
areas of the prefrontal lobe, which are primarily responsible for
executive functioning such as planning, problem solving and emotional
regulation. 8 Weeks Mindfulness research studies have shown that the
amygdala, known as our brain's 'fight or flight' centre and the seat of
our fearful and anxious emotions - decreases in brain cell volume after
regular Mindfulness practice, addressing our feelings of anxiety and
Scientific findings have also proven that regular practice of
Mindfulness improves our Emotional Intelligence, IQ and creativity.
Creativity helps us to become innovators, scientists, better leaders and
students - in any area of activity. Creativity helps us to make a true
difference. The frontal lobe of the brain is associated with creative
thinking and its thickness increases with the regular practice of
So the benefits of Mindfulness practice are immense to us as
individuals, family members, students, workers and finally as a nation.
This column will explore the latest advances of Mindfulness practice and
its practical benefits as a series of articles in our future issues.
(Aruna Manathunge has practiced Mindfulness for over 42 years. During
the past 7 years he has closely followed the development of Mind Science
in the Western world. He has had a long career as the Country Head of
Sri Lanka and the Head of the Indian Sub-Continent of an American
Pharmaceutical Multinational company. Presently Aruna conducts Coaching
in Mindfulness to Schools and Companies. Aruna can be contacted at