Are you one of those people that say: “I keep forgetting to be mindful”?
Mindfulness is a style of meditation where you direct and shift your focus towards your thoughts, feelings and senses in the moment. It’s about turning off all distractions and allowing yourself to be present with what is happening in the now. It is about just being, free from judgement or interpretation of the experience you are having, rising above the stories you tell yourself and simply observing what is happening.
Mindfulness, like learning any new skill, is something that needs to be practised. You won’t be able to decide on day one that you need to be more mindful and then from day two find yourself living in a constant state of mindfulness. It requires regular practise until mindfulness becomes part of your daily life naturally.
Here are just 7 of the many benefits to practising mindfulness:
1. Mindfulness Helps to Ease Anxiety and Depression
Mindfulness teaches us new ways to relate to thoughts and emotions because it gives us the ability to untangle from unhelpful thoughts—especially the ones that can pull us into stress and suffering. It can help us to be more resilient against both anxiety and depression.
2. Mindfulness Reduces Stress
Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective way to reduce stress and improve mental resilience. It helps us better handle life’s challenges, such as job losses, financial stress, divorce or death. Practising mindfulness on a regular basis helps us respond to stressful situations more effectively, which makes it easier to handle whatever life throws at us.
3. Mindfulness Improves Focus and Efficiency
Mindfulness helps us to focus our attention. When we regularly practice mindfulness, we are less distracted and therefore we can be more efficient and productive. Instead of reacting to every distraction and scattering our focus through multitasking, mindfulness helps us to channel our full attention towards the tasks at hand.
4. Mindfulness Hardwires our Brain to be More Calm and Less Reactive
Research shows that mindfulness-based therapies increase the concentration of grey matter in the parts of the brain associated with learning and memory, emotional regulation and perspective taking. This means that we can be more calm, less reactive, more mentally resilient and less likely to fall into negative or unhelpful emotional patterns.
Mindfulness also reduces the size of the amygdala, which is the part of the brain associated with the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. This helps people to ease anxiety and reactivity and respond more calmly and effectively to stressful experiences.
5. Mindfulness Improves Sleep
When we go through our day continuously rushing or feeling stressed, worried or anxious, our bodies can get stuck in the ‘fight-or-flight’ response—which can linger even when we get home and try to relax. This inability to unwind can make us particularly prone to sleepless nights. Mindfulness meditation can help us relax, unwind and calm our nervous system (which in turn helps us get a better night’s sleep.)
6. Mindfulness Improves our Physical Health
Mindfulness meditation has a whole host of health benefits. Studies show that mindfulness can be effective for helping people to manage diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure and gastrointestinal problems. It can even help to strengthen the immune system.
When we practise mindfulness, we release less of the stress hormones (such as adrenalin and cortisol) that can create wider health problems and our bodies instead abide in a more natural, relaxed and calm state. This helps to explain why mindfulness has such a positive ripple effect on our overall health and wellbeing.
7. Mindfulness Improves the Quality of our Relationships
If mindfulness can help us feel calmer, happier, less reactive and less stressed, it makes sense that all this would have a positive effect on our ability to form strong and positive relationships. Studies have shown a positive correlation between higher levels of mindfulness and more satisfying romantic relationships.
Being more present and attentive is also a positive aspect of mindful living that enables us to connect more closely to the people that matter most to us in life. When we are calmer, less reactive and more emotionally available to listen to people and share quality time with them, we are more likely to enjoy positive relationships with our partners, friends and family.
3 Easy tips to begin your mindful journey:
You can start putting mindfulness into practice with a few simple exercises.
- One-minute breathing exercise Sit with your back straight but relaxed. For the next minute, focus your entire attention on your breathing. How the air passes in and out of your nostrils, how your abdomen rises and falls with each breath. If thoughts start crowding in, gently let them go and refocus on your breathing.
- Check in with yourself Bring yourself into the present moment by asking yourself, ‘What is going on with me at the moment?’ You can label your thoughts and feelings — for example, ‘that’s an anxious feeling’ — and let them go. You may start to feel more of an observer instead of someone reacting to thoughts and feelings.
- Eat mindfully When you’re having a meal, focus on your eating. Don’t read or watch TV at the same time. Pay attention to how the food looks, smells and tastes. You may find you enjoy your food more and that you stop eating when you’re full instead of automatically finishing what’s on your plate.
Being mindful may allow you to focus on and appreciate what you have instead of taking things for granted. The awareness and feeling of gratitude may help you to feel renewed.
Without being mindful, you may simply react to negative thoughts and feelings. Practising mindfulness may help you to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and manage them in a positive way.
Medical Disclaimer- This article is for information purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For medical advice, always consult your physician. The information provided in this blog is based on the author’s best knowledge of writing. We do not assume liability for the information within this blog, be it direct or indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages.