There are countless ways that we can all add a bit more mindfulness into our lives.
Whether you’re brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, or any other task that puts your mind on autopilot, you have the opportunity each day to consciously engage all your senses on any given task.
The practice of mindfulness can be put into practice essentially anywhere, anytime, and on any occasion. When you’re sitting, eating, or spending time with your loved ones, try to simply focus on being present in the moment.
Mindfulness is essentially a mental state that can be achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment.
The practice asks that you do so while also acknowledging and calmly accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without judgement.
This can be done by eliminating any distractions, such as cell phones, and focusing on your breath instead of the constant noise in your head. Take a moment to stop, breathe, and feel the sensations going on in your body. Are you tense in your shoulders? Are you feeling down? Whatever it is, try to breathe into the moment and let go of any thoughts.
But why is mindfulness so important?
There’s actually a whole science behind it, as well as plenty of research being done into the potential ways in which mindfulness can change the wiring in our brains for the better.
Benefits of Mindfulness
1) It may help reduce anxiety.
In a 2013 Massachusetts study, 93 individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder were assigned to group sessions on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), while others were assigned to a stress management education program (SME). Researchers found that those who were placed in the MBSR mindfulness-based sessions showed significantly less stress and anxiety than the other group.
2) It can help you cope with illness.
While mindfulness may not cure the symptoms of illness, it can help make them more manageable. In a study called the eCALM trial, a therapy program for cancer patients, it was concluded that mindfulness reduced symptoms of stress, reduced reactivity to experience, helped people grow past trauma, and made people feel more vigorous and less fatigued.
Another program also found that mindfulness helped reduce obsessive thoughts, worry, and helped people judge their situations less harshly.
3) It may help improve mood.
Mindfulness has been shown to help lessen symptoms associated with anxiety, stress, low mood, and sad thoughts. By giving you the tools to better control and regulate your emotions, it can help lessen worry, as well as aid you in being kinder and more compassionate toward yourself. Mindfulness practice can help you step back from negative emotions, gain perspective, identify them, and accept them instead of fighting against them.
4) It can help promote a more positive body image.
Eating disorders, dysmorphia, and general body dissatisfaction plague women and men of all ages. In a study in which one group of women were assigned to a meditation group, and another to a control group, the women who were in the meditation group reported “significantly greater reduction in body dissatisfaction, body shame, and contingent self-worth based on appearance.”
Even better, these positive effects on body image were maintained in the participants up to three months after the completion of the study.
5) It may support healthy cognition.
In a 2010 study published by the Consciousness and Cognition Journal, 24 people were enrolled in four sessions of meditation training, while a control group of 25 people were given an audio book. While both groups reported an improved mood, only meditation training seemed to reduce anxiety and fatigue. Not only that, but the meditation group was also found to have improved visual-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning.
The researchers concluded that even just four days of meditation training can enhance focus and attention, which are benefits that had previously only been reported with long-term meditation practice. The takeaway? Even a little bit of mindfulness can go a long way when it comes to health benefits.
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IT'S ABOUT YOU. IT'S ABOUT YOUR HEALTH. IT'S ABOUT RECONNECTING.