Taken from Wikipedia, Mindfulness is the psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment. So what are the benefits of living in the present without judgment, and why should you practice mindfulness? That’s the question this piece is intended to answer, and we’ve gathered dozens of fantastic contributions to this topic from all kinds of people. As a mindfulness practitioner myself (or, at least, I try my best to be mindful), I really enjoyed reading through these, and hope you will too.
Below you’ll find comments on mindfulness that were submitted to us from health professionals, mindfulness teachers, and people from a very wide range of age and backgrounds. Here’s a summary of some of the great points people have made about why mindfulness can be hugely beneficial:
- Allows you to connect to reality
- Reduces anxiety by stopping you from worrying about the future constantly
- Can anticipate and treat depression, as well as help you to achieve better concentration or focus
- Reduces blood pressure and chronic pain
- Potentially improve body satisfaction
- Control over your emotions
- Reduce stress
- Better memory and recall
- Improve communication skills
But that’s just a short summary, and I really encourage you to have a scroll through the submissions below and reading them in their entirety, because there’s loads of great insights.
Finally, if you practice mindfulness yourself and have gained from it, you’re very welcome to also make your own submission here and I’ll add it to this article.
RELATED: See also our piece on the benefits of meditation.
Practicing mindfulness frequently has made a huge difference in my ability to manage the involuntary motor tics that I have. When I was around 10 years old I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. About four years ago I began practicing yoga and meditation, and learned about the benefits of mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness has not only helped me manage the tics themselves, but it has also helped me with becoming more self-confident with my tics and worrying less about how others view me due to them. It has truly made a significant impact on my life. I now practice yoga and meditation daily, and it has become an ingrained aspect of my life.
--Adam Kemp, Adam Kemp Fitness
Being mindful connects you to reality. Many people spend most of their time thinking of the past or the future. Which is fine when planning ahead, or learning from the past. But too much disconnects you from reality.
That's because you're thinking about thoughts. And whilst you're doing that, you're missing the reality that's going on around you. By staying in the present, you're connecting with the reality of the here and now.
You also find there's little to worry about when staying in the here and now. Most people's anxiety is caused by worrying about the future. And most depression is from dwelling on the past. There's usually little to worry about in the here and now.
If you spend most of your time being mindful and, in the present, your mental health will improve dramatically.
--Jon Rhodes, Hypnobusters
I am Dr. Rashmi Byakodi, a health and wellness writer and the editor of bestfornutrition. Here is the answer to your query. Benefits of being mindful:
1. Helps to anticipate and treat depression- Negative thoughts or negative beliefs lead to depression. According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness appears to help limit the relapse by modifying thought patterns without any side effects; this is called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT. (https://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/03/cover-mindfulness). Mindfulness is simply paying attention to one's own existence in the present moment. It involves observing thoughts and emotions from moment to moment without judging them.
2.Helps to achieve better concentration or focus- Mindful meditation regulates the crucial brain wave called alpha rhythm. This helps your brain to overcome distractions and focus better. According to studies conducted at Harvard, mindful meditation can enhance various mental abilities, including rapid memory recall. (https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/04/turn-down-the-volume/) According to researchers, brain cells use distinct frequencies, or waves, to improve the flow of information and these waves are called alpha rhythm. This enhances your attention based decision-making ability. One can benefit greatly by incorporating mindfulness into their daily lives.
--Dr. Rashmi Byakodi, Best for Nutrition
Right away, let's discover 6 benefits of mindfulness meditation.
1. Meditation reduces blood pressure and chronic pain
Flirting with relaxation, meditation allows us to reach a state of absolute relaxation, during which blood pressure drops significantly.
This is particularly effective in alleviating chronic pain, but also brings significant improvements in the case of skin diseases such as psoriasis, for example.
2. Meditation allows a better oxygenation of the brain.
Since meditation is based mainly on breathing exercises, practicing it on a regular basis can considerably increase breathing capacity.
Thus, over the course of the sessions, oxygen is better diffused throughout the body, but especially in the brain. This generally results in an immediate feeling of clarity.
3. Meditation promotes concentration
During a mindfulness meditation session, it is a question of remaining attentive to the world around us (noises, sounds, sensations), without letting ourselves be distracted by all this.
In everyday life, this mainly allows you to focus your attention more easily on a specific task and not to deviate from it.
4. Meditation reduces stress, anxiety and depression.
When practiced regularly, mindfulness meditation changes the way the brain reacts to a common source of stress, allowing it to be controlled.
It also acts as an antidepressant by directly affecting the person's mood.
As a result, anxiety and depressive states are reduced.
5. Meditation fights Alzheimer's
It could slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease by slowing down brain degeneration.
In addition to contributing to the proper functioning of the hippocampus (the region of the brain primarily affected by neurodegenerative disorders), it also improves the connectivity of neurons.
6. Meditation builds immunity
Very effective in supporting certain diseases, mindfulness meditation is also useful in boosting the immune system.
Having almost the same effects as regular physical activity, it allows the body to fight respiratory infections such as colds and flu.
How to practice mindfulness meditation well?
For this practice to be effective, 10 minutes a day is enough:
Simply choose the time of day that seems most appropriate, sit in a suit, head and back straight.
Put your hands on your knees, palms facing the sky, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
Be fully aware of your breathing in and out.
If a noise disturbs your session, observe your reaction, accept it and focus on your breath again.
As the sessions progress, you will feel more relaxed and less easily distracted by your surroundings. You will then begin to enjoy the full benefits of mindfulness meditation!
--Abdellah Azzouzi, chiotchaton.com
As someone who has practiced mindfulness for some time now, I thought I could contribute to your query regarding being mindful. One compelling reason for staying in the present is the reduction of anxiety and depression. Having struggled with anxiety in the past, I benefited from mindfulness because I learned how to cope with ruminating and intrusive thoughts. We have been taught that when minds wander and negative thoughts linger, it is highly likely to lead to mood disorders. Instead of letting these thoughts occupy and overwhelm me, I have learned to observe and say goodbye to them.There have been several studies that support the positive effects of mindfulness. One in particular by Richard Chambers and company in 2008 have found that those who underwent intensive mindfulness training ruminated less and sustained their attention during tasks longer. Their memory was also better, which was also my experience, and depressive symptoms were fewer. Mindfulness being intangible poses some challenges in research, but there is no doubting the benefits I had from practice.
--Willie Greer, The Product Analyst
Reduce Rumination -
Studies show that mindfulness can be used as a tool to reduce rumination. Sometimes our minds can get the better of us by creating scenarios that aren't accurate to our reality. Although daydreaming has its place in terms of developing creativity, it can be debilitating for anyone suffering from anxiety or depression. Mindfulness encourages you to stay in the present moment which ultimately reduces over-thinking. In the long-run this can improve memory and enhance your attention span.
Improve Body Satisfaction -
Body dissatisfaction is rampant in today's society. Although primarily found in women, nobody is immune to the unrealistic expectations that are placed on society to look a certain way. Research shows that meditation can be used as a self-compassion tool to help a women-based intervention group develop self-worth and reduce appearance-based shame - with long-lasting results on overall self-perception.
--Claire Barber, Treeological
I have been a health and fitness consultant for over twenty years. As much as taking care of one’s physical health is important, looking after our mental health matters too. Mindfulness is an essential tool for maintaining mental and emotional health.
I myself have been living mindfully for years. When you’re juggling a career and family life, things can get pretty hectic and stressful. Cultivating mindfulness has taught me not to rush. Through it, I have learned to live in the present and savor life’s little joys and let go of negative experiences. It has also improved my relationships with my partner and my children because when we’re together I now give them my undivided attention instead of being distracted by work or my clients.
Now when I guide my clients through a new exercise routine, I also remind them to practice mindfulness so that they have a happy outlook to match that toned physique.
--Linda Chester, The Health Hour
my name is Giorgio, 40 years old man and the practice of attention and presence started for me around 8 years ago through meditation. Back then I was coming out from a long period of bad habits. that made the dialog in the mind becoming too strong and continuously overwhelmed by difficult emotions.
I started looking for information and way to overcome the flux of the mind and I think that I really start seeing the importance of being present after watching a TED Talk by Andy Puddicombe. In this video, he was giving a little introduction to meditation as a tool not to stop or control the mind, but instead being able to step back and be the observer of the mind and feeling with full acceptance and without judgment. It felt like if he was suggesting people to become friends with their mind instead of engaging with it. From there I start watching videos and read more books on the topic. In this way, I will find interest in the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, spiritual teacher such as Eckhart Tolle, and learn about the Dhamma with Ashin Tejaniya and the Vipassana Meditation.
The fact is that the main message was always the same. Be the observer of the mind and accept it as it is. Back then I could not really understand the meaning of it yet I could start grasping the point at least intellectually little by little. After all these years of constant practice I can see more and more where it all points out. Since I have started to really pay attention to the present moment and an observer of the mind, it is clear to see the connection that thinking has on the body in the form of emotions. I noticed that I could feel the body more and more and even hear my own heart beating. These little presents that meditation was giving me was making my practice worthwhile and strengthen my personal trust and faith. I am still meditating to this day and although there is no ultimate goal to achieve I can see clearer and clearer the many voices of the mind. Notice how many actions and little movement happen to the body completely unconsciously.
The way thinking affects the body if objectivity and presence are missing from me as an observer. It's great to know how neuroscience and science have turned around into this holistic practice with a more pragmatic approach. Addressing to the benefit of meditation
--Giorgio Passalacqua, soundswow.com
I am a Licensed Psychotherapist, Professional Life Coach & Reiki Practitioner with a Masters in Counseling. I would like to provide insight about the benefit of mindfulness. This is a topic I regularly work on with clients both in life coaching as well as counseling.
Mindfulness is the act of being intentional with your focus, energy, and time so that you can fully experience the moment. Most often we find ourselves daydreaming of some past event or plotting an upcoming event or meeting. Without a focused intention on the present, our thoughts and attention jump quickly between past, present, and future. When we practice mindfulness and learn to experience the present moment fully.
There are many benefits to mindfulness which I have experienced myself. For example, we become better friends and spouses because our communication and listening skills enhance as we give our friends our full attention. Additionally, overall, we feel less stress and anxiety because our anxious thoughts most often live in the future, not the present. The more your thoughts concentrate on what might happen, rather than what is actually happening in the present moment, the more anxious you will feel. Lastly, practicing mindfulness regularly will increase the joy in your life. You will begin to notice many small wonders that you may have otherwise missed because of distractibility.
As a coach and therapist, I make mindfulness a regular part of my day because this is a skill that I teach my clients. The best way for me to relate to my clients and their struggles with being present and fully intentional with their energy is to have my own life experiences with this. My favorite way to practice mindfulness is to spend time in nature each day where I can engage my five senses in my surroundings. I observe, feel, listen, smell, and taste my surroundings. Tasting, by the way, can just be observing the lingering flavors on your tongue from your toothpaste or your coffee! Mindfulness is about being creative, having fun, and cultivating a few moments for yourself within a busy schedule.
--Carrie Mead, Curiosity Life Coaching
There are a vast number of benefits to routine mindfulness practice. Essentially, consider any positive outcome you could think of and routine mindfulness practice probably contributes to that! For example, research data tells us that routine mindfulness practice reduces physical stress, rumination (i.e., going over and over something in your head), psychological distress, emotional reactivity, PTSD symptoms, and physical pain. Mindfulness improves working memory, focus, cognitive flexibility, relationship satisfaction, and even immune functioning. Mindfulness helps us reduce suffering (e.g., pain, tension, and stress) and increase happiness, increases control of our mind so our mind stops controlling us, and helps us experience reality as it is. It allows us to see our life with eyes wide open and be present in the moment rather than caught up in the past or the future.
--Nikki Winchester, Psy.D., Cincinnati Center for DBT
Being more mindful allows one to live in the moment.
This is so crucial for the fact that we operate best in the moment. Of course we are happier as we are not dwelling on the past, or anxious about the future.
This allows us to also be present in conversation with people. Letting us become more emotionally intelligent. As we will be connecting at a deeper level with the people in our lives by being present.
As you can't be as emotionally intelligent, with yourself or with others, if you are thinking about the past or future. You can only truly experience emotions and interactions in the here and now.
At the end of the day, being more mindful also allows us to truly enjoy life more, as it forces us to mentally, physically and spiritual be HERE. In the moment. Which is all we really have.
It reminds us to live. As if we are not being present, we are literally being pulled back toward the past. Or pulled forward toward the future. Both of which are an illusion. Ultimately, forgetting to really live.
That is why mindfulness is so important. It is the key to living more fully.
--Chris Cucchiara, personaldevelopfit.com
Practicing mindfulness can significantly help our mental health and wellbeing. I'll give one example that has transformed my life. For context, I run a company, Zenit, that makes custom wellness journals, where people get to choose the wellness-related prompts to be included in their journal.
In my custom wellness journal, one of my daily prompts is: What serves me today? When I journal in the morning, seeing this prompt gets me to pause, and really check in with how I'm feeling in that moment. It brings me to the present instead of thinking about all I need to do in the day. Before I started doing this, planning my day was only and always about getting the most done. It was about my productivity, not my health and wellbeing.
By actually checking in with how I feel when I'm planning my day, I have been able to live in a way that is far more sustainable day to day. If I feel tired or upset, I let myself slow down and take it easier. If I feel energized and motivated, I do more. I'm no longer running myself dry by the end of the day. My goal with Zenit Journals is to empower others to live more mindfully, so that we can all go to bed feeling at peace and wake up feeling restored.
--Alina Liao, Zenit
Practicing mindfulness has a number of benefits. One of the most important to note is that mindfulness can help you with what is known as emotional regulation or the ability to have some degree of control over your emotions. We all have those moments when our emotions get the best of us and we lash out or react seemingly out of our own control.
Research has shown that those who practice mindfulness have a greater ability to stop those out of control reactions in their tracks. People who practice mindfulness and have heightened emotional regulation also tend to have improved mood and less negative thoughts. This is just one of the many benefits of practicing mindfulness daily.
--Kristen Fescoe, Resility Health
One of the most critical benefits of mindfulness is the reduction and managing of stress. While some people are capable of naturally managing their stress - or otherwise don't experience much stress in their lives - many people are putting a constant strain on their lives and health through stress. Not only does stress harm our sleep, it has the potential and ability to inhibit most of our bodies functioning and cause a gradual chain-reaction of negative effects on our health at large.
Mindfulness is an ideal counter to stress. By becoming and remaining mindful and practicing mindfulness, stress helps us to keep things in perspective which will prevent small-picture problems, or things that are out of our control, from causing us stress. Mindful thinking puts us in touch with there here and now - which for many is the key to living a stress-free life.
--Jamie Bacharach, Acupuncture Jerusalem
My mindfulness comes from a little different perspective. I have learned mindfulness from my muscles. Learning that our muscles are as much emotional as they are physical, being in the moment helped me overcome severe back pain 20 years ago. I continued to study the body, muscles specifically, and learned that stretching without mindfulness was nothing more than strength training, which can cause more pain. I have since earned a degree in Aging Sciences, studying how the body ages from 30-death. I started my own company, The Muscle Repair Shop, and have worked with hundreds of older people. Most of them are suffering from chronic pain usually associated the age. Regardless of their age, when I teach them my Stretch n' Release Technique, they are amazed at how quickly the pain leaves. I know yoga has the mind-body component, but most older people have a difficult time getting into the poses and holding them for long periods of time. I solve that for them and it is amazing how mindfulness changes our bodies physically.
--Butch Phelps, The Muscle Repair Shop
I speak and teach about mindfulness. I gave a TEDx talk on it last year and it spring boarded me into my professional speaking career.
Practicing mindfulness became an important part of my life after growing up in a turbulent home, joining a conservative church as a teenager, putting myself through college, marrying, birthing four beautiful children, and then realizing I am gay. I had enrolled in gay conversion therapy in an attempt to save my marriage and my place in heaven. The “therapy” had devastating consequences. Mindfulness tools were pivotal in my healing journey and the beginning of my new life.
I define mindfulness as the intentional observation of our thoughts and actions, without judgment. With this definition, being mindful allows for so many benefits. As we choose to observe what we do, say, and think, and remove judgment, a few very important things happen.
First, we realize how pervasive that critical inner voice is throughout our lives. It has an opinion about what we eat, what we wear, how much we weigh, how we parent, EVERYTHING. By releasing judgment, we shut that voice up. And our mind becomes a much safer place to be.
Second, we are able to make decisions that are more grounded in who we are, not what we think of ourselves or what other people think of us. This means that as we are trying to figure out the best next steps for our careers, and our families, we can know that our choices are in our best interests. Instead of being in the best interests of our perceptions of what our parents want, our partners want, our bosses, our faith communities, etc.
Third, mindfulness really increases our self-love, which is critical to living our best lives. We can't love ourselves if we don't know ourselves, right? When you first meet someone oftentimes, we're not really impressed (think of that one former co-worker that you hated on sight). But when you work next to them all day, every day, you learn what makes them tick, what kind of family they grew up in, etc. You end up loving them as humans. Mindfulness offers us the same chance with ourselves. By systematically removing judgment, we are able to truly get to know ourselves. We can fall in love with who we are through practicing mindfulness.
--Elena Joy Thurston, prideandjoyfoundation.com
Studies show that training in mindfulness can improve attention, focus and cognitive flexibility. Mindfulness can help us become less reactive in upsetting or emotional situations, which can be helpful for any of us. It can make us less anxious and less prone to ruminative worry. It can improve some markers of physical health too, such as blood pressure. However, in order for these benefits to be realized, mindfulness needs to be practiced on a regular basis, ideally daily. Doing it for 30 seconds every few days will likely not lead to the benefits described above.
--Paul Greene, Ph.D., Manhattan Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
For such a simple practice, mindfulness has truly impacted my life in many positive ways. Being mindful gives me the opportunity to stop rushing, sink into the moment and accept it for what it is. To be grateful for it, even when it isn’t easy or “perfect”.
Mindfulness is a quality that all humans have within them, but have not been advised that they have it, or been informed of its value and how to cultivate it. It is not about THINKING but more about the awareness of thinking, as well as tapping into the sensory world: sight, sound, taste, smell, and feelings in the body.
When I first started practicing, I never imagined I would experience so many benefits. As a result of my mindfulness practice I’ve developed a healthier relationship with food, better sleep, more clarity around my soul purpose, and simply accepting where I’m at in life (and being damn grateful for it).
Other than bringing a great sense of well-being into my life, being mindful has advanced every aspect of it. I’m a better listener because I’m present and less distracted by my thoughts about the past and the future. My communication skills have strengthened because I’m more in tune with my feelings and what triggers them, so I am able to talk about them with ease. I have a deeper sense of connection and gratitude. I realized that my stress was often a result of my own thoughts, beliefs and choices and I had some power to change them. My cortisol levels have dropped and my immune system is stronger than ever. I am fully present when eating a meal and show my food love and appreciation before consuming.
I’m passionate about this practice and truly believe it can change our lives for the better. I am kinder to my body, my soul, my friends and family because of it. Being mindful gives me the opportunity to stop rushing, sink into the moment and accept it for what it is. To be grateful for it, even when it isn’t easy or “perfect.”
--Kaitlin Peach, LIVING PEACHFULLY
The main benefit of mindfulness is to reconnect with the part of yourself that is inherently happy, the part of you that sees the forest and not just the tree, the part of you that can adapt and grow. We all have to wear a mask to defend ourselves from the outside threats, real sometimes and imaginary most of the time. But this mask is not us and does not let a lot of light in, does not let in enough air for us to breathe. Mindfulness helps you see light and breathe through the mask, it makes it softer, a little bit like molting. It is true that we are more vulnerable when mindful but we also allow our deeper self to emerge and little by little take control back of our life, ensuring we live our true values, find our purpose rather than just go through the motion.
How do you practice mindfulness? Being present, honest with yourself and the world around you, accepting the present on its own terms and cultivating a non- judgmental attitude. Being present is not just being there, it is actively participating in life, listening attentively with curiosity and when called for taking the appropriate action. It is about understanding and responding rather than just reacting. When the mask is too thick everything gets reflected back, with little awareness. When you practice mindfulness and the mask gets thinner you are able to receive, absorb and respond. A whole new process starts in your mind and creates new pathways allowing you to feel and think differently.
What does mindfulness feel like to those who have been practicing for a while? Remember the last time you woke up, simply happy to be alive, content to be you at that time and place. No need to justify your actions or inaction, your being who you are and simply looking at the world as an immense playground where you and others are invited to play a game called life. It also includes immense compassion for oneself and others. The more you experience yourself, others and the world we live in, the more you feel compassion. It’s not trading dark glasses for a pair of rosy glasses, it is having both a wide focus and a close up, having a more realistic view of life and of our role in life.
--Tony Saccardi, Mindful Link
My severe depression didn't begin lifting until I found a therapist that helped me implement mindfulness into my life. Depression can be so deeply rooted in being stuck in the past and seeing no hope for the future, so using mindfulness techniques to keep yourself in the present moment is an absolute game-changer for healing depression. Learning to use mindfulness practices to keep yourself in the present, using sights, sounds, smells to stay grounded there, and consistently checking in with yourself, you can center yourself in a space where your mind isn't tied to the past or future and instead you're able to focus on your goals and things you're grateful for in the moment.
--Amanda Gist, amandagist.com
While there is plenty of research and data on the health benefits of mindfulness, I wanted to mention a more basic benefit of mindfulness. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and psychotherapist, famously said the following: Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. In my view, this quote perfectly captures one of the key benefits of mindfulness. When we are not being mindful, our days are consumed by reacting to events occurring around us without being very thoughtful about them. This can cause us react poorly and to be less than ideal colleagues, mothers, fathers, sisters or brothers. When we practice mindfulness, we open up the space between stimulus and response and give ourselves the opportunity to reflect on the stimulus and choose how we respond, which, on reflection, will be the positive response. When we respond positively, we can diffuse situations and live a more content and happy life.
--Lisa Davis, Shanti Bowl
Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and intention-setting, have existed for centuries. Now, medical research is exploring the many positive impacts mindfulness can have on the human brain and our daily lives. I’ll review 3 key mental benefits that modern research has linked to practicing mindfulness:
1. Emotional control: Empirical data shows that mindfulness-based stress reduction and therapeutic practices can have a positive impact on one’s neural reactions to stressful stimuli, demonstrating that mindfulness can help people develop more adaptive responses to stress and better emotional control, in general.
2. Better memory and recall: Mindfulness requires an individual to be fully present in any given moment without becoming overwhelmed by distractions.. These practices have been linked to stronger working memory in individuals, which is the mind’s capacity to recall information that it’s learned to complete immediate tasks and goals.
3. Positive interpersonal relationships and communication skills: Many mindfulness practices ask individuals to verbalize what they are feeling at any given moment and to interrogate the sources of their emotional responses. With regular exercise of these practices, mindfulness practitioners report both higher levels of positive interpersonal relationships and higher levels of confidence in their communication skills than non-practitioners.
--Dr. Bryan Bruno, Mid City TMS
One of the benefits of being mindful is that it allows us to be creative and spontaneous. When we are working on something or having a conversation with somebody and we are in the moment, it means that we are not thinking about the future, anxieties, what we need to get done, or what we think the other person is thinking about. Rather, we are truly listening and truly present. This allows us to connect much deeper with people and make connections such as connecting people to ideas or other people, connecting ourselves to other ideas, other people, or current events. Being present helps us to make these creative connections that then lead to innovative ideas in our work and life. Also, mindfulness reduces stress because we are calmer as we are right in that moment and not thinking about something else.
--Jeff Moore, Everyday Power
Practicing mindfulness on an everyday basis can have countless benefits. I’d like to talk about one of them. Mindfulness has long been considered as one of the treatments of depression. Scientifically it decreases depressive symptoms, anxiety, stress and increases self-compassion when compared to yoga. (Falsafi, 2016)
The way mindfulness can help is through enhancing practitioners’ ability to regulate their emotions. With some powerful tools, it decreases negative emotions, helps to identify them, and accept them instead of fighting them. This allows mindful thinkers to better regulate their emotions, leading to better coping and management of depression.
--Sirarpi Sahakyan, Self Development Secrets
Spiritual teachers have defined mindfulness as present moment non-judgemental awareness. Studies have shown the benefits of practicing mindfulness to relieve stress, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, lower the risk of heart disease and help heal digestive issues. The link between what we are thinking has been proven to either harm our physical health, or improve it.
The beauty of mIndfulness is that it helps quiet our thinking mind, the chatter and negative voices that drain our energy and cause us stress. When we are focused on the present moment, intently noticing what we are doing with great care, such as noticing the temperature of the water, and feel of the plate as we wash the dishes, we keep our mind from wandering into obsessive worry thoughts.
The second part is that as soon as you start to criticize yourself for doing something wrong, just notice your thoughts, allow what happened without judgement, and see if you can feel the pain, regret or shame drift away. The way mindfulness works is that we simply allow what is, without the self-criticism, giving ourselves permission to feel what we are feeling without trying to fix anything.
My experience with mindfulness
The other day, on a holiday weekend, I found myself sitting in a long line of cars, waiting to drop off a load of yard clippings at a dumpster. Not only did it look like my wait was going to be about 30 minutes, but I had 3 more truckfuls to dump after this one. I thought to myself that it was going to be a long day. I tried to be positive. After sitting there for about 20 minutes, without moving up in line very quickly, a feeling of dread, boredom and frustration came over me. It was a beautiful day, and I was stuck sitting inside my truck. I took a drink of water to distract myself and it didn't help.
Then, I remembered my mindfulness practice. I noticed how agitated and frustrated I felt, then I looked around and noticed the blue sky, the birds, the trees, and the other people in line, and walking by. I just breathed deeply and watched myself sitting there. I stopped fighting the situation, and felt content to just be. I was no longer frustrated. My peace of mind was more important than anything else I needed to do that day.
--Lynell Ross, Zivadream
By living mindfully we extricate ourselves from the rat race that is the contemporary world. The benefits of this choice – a lifestyle really - are myriad. Our health takes can upward turn. We become stronger and less likely to be afflicted by physical, mental and emotional ailments. Best of all, we learn to truly appreciate the world around us and things that we possess but seem to perpetually ignore. In short, we actually see the true value of life.
--Jess, My Wellness Me
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that intensely focuses on being in the moment. Mindfulness exercises require the absence of judgment or interpretation of the feelings and senses that are occurring in the moment and encourages engagement with your current environment. Mindfulness exercise has been proven to help reduce stress because of its ability to relax the body and the mind. Mindfulness exercises take lots of practice and more you use them, the easier it is for you to focus on being in the moment.
There are various types of mindfulness exercises, but it is important to discover which type of exercise works best for you! One exercise is similar to breathing techniques. When you are feeling stress, try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute can help. Finding moments of peace can also be considered a relaxation technique.
Life can be extremely busy leaving no time to enjoy yourself or find inner peace, and that can cause many people to feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed can be linked to high levels of stress. Find the time to de-stress and relax. Inner peace eliminates anxieties, fears, and worries. It can remove negative thoughts, stress, lack of satisfaction and unhappiness.
Mindfulness feeds focus. Focus allows us to be in a state of self-awareness so that we’re in touch with how we feel and recognize what we need —including help— and when we need it.
--Dr. Grand McDonald, PsyD, Clarity Clinic
I struggled with depression as far back as I can remember and fell into drugs and self harm after losing my mom in 2007. I was diagnosed with a Serious Mental Illness and told by mental health professionals that I would never be happy. This year, I was decertified from having that Serious Mental Illness (something I was told was impossible) and now live a happy and fulfilled life without the symptoms of depression. Mindfulness was a crucial foundation for my mental health recovery. It is now a large part of what I teach my clients.
There is areason that mindfulness practices such as meditation and journaling are so praised.Anything that requires mindfulness trains the brain to notice when thoughts have shifted to an unhealthy track and strengthens your ability to bring themback. This teaches you to pause and focus your attention, which empowers you touse these same skills in a crisis.
--Amanda Webster, Amanda Webster Health
My work is all about mindfulness and how it impacts results. I hope this is helpful!
All of our results are a direct reflection of what is going on inside of us.
Everything is created twice; first in our mind and then in physical form.
Albert Einstein said, Everything is energy, and that's all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want, and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.
Imagine talking with some friends at work, and someone walks into the room with a negative attitude. You can feel that energy. You may not be aware of what it is, but you know you don't want to be around it.
Our thoughts are also energy.
Earl Nightengale is quoted, You are now, and do become, what you think about. Napoleon Hill interviewed 500 of the most successful people for his book, Think and Grow Rich, and they all agree that we become our thoughts.
Thoughts, being energy, attract like energy. Have you ever noticed having a negative thought, and soon after, others follow, followed by a corresponding negative outcome?
The problem is most people aren't thinking. Rather, they are on auto-pilot, dwelling on past events, past challenges, negative experiences, or even future events that are based in fear, worry, and doubt. That has been my experience coaching thousands of leaders over the past 20+ years.
I'll share my own experience when I was transitioning out of the military to becoming an entrepreneur. While I was still in the Air Force, I made the commitment to donate 10% of my earnings to this charity for 12 months.
As I approached my military retirement date, I started to worry about my coaching business; where would the clients come from; what if I fail: what if I can't keep tithing? I got swept up in my fear of something that hadn't even happened yet and canceled my last two tithing installments.
Those negative, fear-based thoughts attracted more, and before I knew it, my results began to decline. A few client payments declined; prospective clients weren't showing up for their discovery calls.
I finally had enough! I asked myself, Is this worry helping? What do I want right now? I sat down and meditated for 15 mins, focused on being calm and present, and realizing I had been caught up in future drama.
After my meditation, I called the charity and continued with my monthly commitment to them. The next day, two clients called and asked if they could pay their balance early. Things really began to shift in my business, for the better, when I started managing my thoughts and coming back to the present.
Magical things start to happen when you get out of your head and into your body, heart, and the present moment.
Since thoughts are energy and like energy attracts like thoughts and results; the quality of our lives really depend upon us being present.
Here is a simple life-hack to keep you grounded and present.
You can simply set your phone alarm for the morning, mid-day and afternoon and just ask yourself, How am I feeling right now? How would I rather feel? This simple practice will pull you out of the worry and into the beautiful now.
--Laura Noel, stretchintosuccess.com
Mindfulness has positive implications in just about every area of life, even our diet. The concept of Intuitive Eating is based on the idea of mindfulness. When we are mindful of our bodies needs nutritionally, our fullness, and what we are putting into our bodies we are more likely to achieve balance mentally and physically.
When we are intentional about being mindful it begins to carry over into even the simple moments in life that have a big impact. Each meal is an opportunity to be mindful of what your body needs, but also to intentionally allow yourself to indulge on occasion. Mindfulness enables you to live in balance in this way.
--Lisa Richards, The Candida Diet
Making the effort to be present is so important and can be applied to many different facets of our life. It is often an overlooked action that when practiced, can bring you a feeling of peace.
Life is busy and as a parent it is easy to get caught up in the chaos. There are always going to be dishes to do and laundry to fold. But the one thing that passes far too quickly and that we can never get back is time. We should be mindful that we will never get back the time that we are able to spend with our children.
Taking the time to be present with our kids is one of the best things that we can do for them. They will get a formal education at school but our actions and the examples that we set for them are just as influential and will help them succeed more in life. Stopping to live in the present moment sometimes takes effort on our part. But it is worth it.
--Patti Henry, Our Life On FIRE
Honestly, I weave mindfulness into everything I do because it helps me stay focused, perform better and remember what's important. One example of this is around nutrition. Being present while we eat can be a challenge. Often times, it's way too easy to just throw the food in our mouths and get on with the day. But that makes it difficult to truly feel how what we eat is affecting us. Taking a pause, slowing down and enjoying every bite makes it more pleasurable and can ease digestion, as well. I recommend mindfulness techniques to most people I come across because it's made such a difference in my life.
--Eddie Johnson, Anabolic Bodies
Focusing on the present moment, also called practicing mindfulness, is critical to our emotional wellbeing. Especially in this time of the COVID situation, I would describe my emotional state as a rollercoaster ride. It’s easy to feel down and sad when we’re not producing the results we intended. As a business owner and doctor in private practice, this is constantly bothering me on a daily basis. My emotional state affects my eating habits and my exercise routine and if I’m not being mindful of what’s going on, I can get into a downward spiral. What grounds my emotions and gives me a bigger perspective is being mindful and present, which allows me to get into an attitude of gratitude. When I get into that state of gratitude, I realize where I am and how much I’ve actually accomplished in life, which gives me broader perspective in life. Practicing mindfulness allows me to calm down, be happy, and anticipate in excitement for what’s to come. This emotional state allows me to take action and move toward my business, fitness, and relationship goals.
--Dr. Calvin Ng, Cohn Health Institute
As a personal practitioner, and as a yoga student and teacher, I've experienced the benefits of being mindful/paying attention to the present. The biggest difference I've noticed in myself and the people close to me, is that we are less reactive when things don't go our way, or when things agitate us. It slows time down, so that instead of habitually reacting, we can really be present to listen to or experience what is happening, and then have an intentional response. Or, if it's more appropriate, no response at all.
--Valerie Brett Shaindlin, ValerieBrett.com
A way of being
We hear the word mindfulness so often these days, what does it really mean? Mindfulness of what, exactly? Breathing? Thinking? Emotions and physical sensations? All of the above -- mindfulness is holding oneself open and aware to all that is going on with oneself in the here and now. Going back to that open observing space of the here and now, again and again, mindfulness is a way of being. And there's a practice for it.
Some interesting science behind it is...
It's often framed in the media as a performance enhancement kind of thing that helps workers at Google increase their productivity. It's seldom mentioned that mindfulness practice is shown to help new mothers stay attuned to their babies. Dan Siegel of NICABM authored a study of mindful parenting in 2007.
The non-judgemental part is just the attitude that helps one stay present in the here and now with whatever one is experiencing. The attitude sustains mindfulness and helps one to practice. Otherwise, one can become lost or caught up in executive type functioning, thinking this is good, or this bad, desiring something different or denying what is instead of being open to experiencing. Non Judgment and acceptance helps keep one open - with practice one can move more gracefully with an unending flow of experience.
Attitude about pain and suffering
Of course, it can be very difficult to be with one's experience, especially if one is suffering from pain. The Buddhist roots of mindfulness recognize that denying one's experience causes more pain and suffering. The mindfulness way of being breathes into and leans into difficulty. This is not to say one shouldn't compassionately treat oneself with some Tylenol in case of an ear-splitting headache, or run away if someone is attacking. The practice helps one to be more in tune with one's best adaptive responses.
--Linus Streckfus, Just Mind Counselling
Practicing being mindful can help reduce stress, increase happiness, improve sleep, and calm anxiety. However, you need to learn to pause and make time for that mindfulness. This is, in part, what meditation can help us achieve. Many meditation exercises aim to have you focus on you: your breath, your physical feeling, and your presence in your current existence. This helps you be more mindful.
The truth is that much of the time we are not being mindful. We are doing tasks while thinking about other things and that makes us less happy. If we learn to focus on the present, what is in front of us right now, what we are actively doing, then we can increase our happiness.
We all create our lives using our internal mental chatter. Many of us think that we live in the real world but the truth is we don't – it’s a construct we have built. We are simply observing what is happening around us when we are mindful, ideally without assigning a value to the observations. Things just are. Our mental chatter is what determines how we experience what we observe. Just becoming aware of the mental chatter is the first step in creating an alternate reality for yourself.
--Marc Fussell, Take2Minutes.org
1. Reduction in symptoms related to illness, chronic illness, and anxiety
Carmody, J., & Baer, R. A. (2008). Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31(1), 23-33. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/70473124?accountid=143111
2. Significant reduction in blood pressure
Ponte Márquez, P. H., Feliu-Soler, A., Solé-Villa, M. J., Matas-Pericas, L., Filella-Agullo, D., Ruiz-Herrerias, M., . . . Arroyo-Díaz, J. A. (2019). Benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing blood pressure and stress in patients with arterial hypertension. Journal of Human Hypertension, 33(3), 237-247. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41371-018-0130-6
3. Improved post traumatic stress symptoms, reducing shame, and increasing acceptance
Goldsmith, R. E., Gerhart, J. I., Chesney, S. A., Burns, J. W., Kleinman, B., & Hood, M. M. (2014). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for posttraumatic stress symptoms: Building acceptance and decreasing shame. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 19(4), 227-234. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2156587214533703
Personal story: The greatest part of mindfulness is that low cost. There is no fancy equipment. There are apps out there such as Head Space, Calm, and Heart Math that have costs but they are not necessarily needed. I began my journey 11 years ago. I was told to take a course by my accountant, of all people, for a tax right off. I ended up in Yoga For The Special Child. When I arrived, I was on a pharmaceutical cocktail for allergies, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, and was only 29 years old. By the end of that one week training, I was off medication for irritable bowel syndrome and in 6 months, I was off everything all together. My MD at the time was holistic and was in the process of trying to transition to supplements but that was not needed either. I became her poster child.
There was one time I had to get a physical for a job and my blood pressure was raised. I was in a hurry and had a tight schedule. The doctor went to reach for her prescription pad. I said give me 2 minutes. I began to do alternate nostril breathing. After 2 minutes, she took my blood pressure again and her jaw went to the floor. She then asked if I could teach all her patients that funny looking breathing exercise.
--Cheryl Albright, Soul To Soul Yoga, LLC
All people frequently experience stress. Long-term effects of chronic stress is a wide variety of physical aches and pains and depression. The easy solution is mindfulness.
Here are the most popular types of mindfulness: sitting with your eyes closed (no thoughts or focusing thoughts on breathing or a specific mantra); meditation with your eyes open (awareness); moving meditation (chi-gong). Most of us spend too much time in a tension mode. When we relax, we soften our muscles. Tense your muscles on purpose, pretend you are trying to lift 100 pounds, then relax as if you are a soft stuffed animal. It is not possible to have relaxed muscles and think stressful thoughts at the same time. Our minds simply can't do that. When we are mindful, all thoughts that are connected to stress and tension evaporate.
Healing happens when the brain is not busy (and our brain is busy even during several hours of sleep). When you are looking at the clouds letting your mind drift with them or meditating to quiet your mind, your brain doesn’t have to process a huge amount of information and can focus on healing. If your mind is constantly busy you are not allowing a key part of healing to occur. If you don’t have time to look at a leaf on a tree or to sit quietly not thinking about anything, this is a sign that your life has gotten out of balance. You have lost control. Your brain is no longer serving you if it is always active. You have become a slave instead of a creator. But even 5 minutes of mindfulness allows us to recharge our mental batteries and this improves well-being. The best way to get started is to have several mini-sessions throughout the day. During the day, take a short break and sit quietly with your eyes closed. Breathe slowly and deeply for about 5 minutes. Tense and relax all muscles in your body. Breathe in and hold your breath for a few seconds, breathe out and hold your breath again. You will notice that you have no thoughts while you are holding your breath.
To enhance your experience, diffuse frankincense essential oil or just put a few drops on your third eye before the meditation.
Mindfulness creates peaceful mind. Peaceful mind resists anxiety, depression and stress. Peaceful mind is able to focus much better. Peaceful mind is absolutely necessary for good quality sleep and health.
--Milana Perepyolkina, Gypsy Energy Secrets
I'm a holistic health and wellness coach who has implemented daily mindfulness practices into both my personal and professional life for more than 7 years.
Personally, my daily mindfulness practices have reversed what was once a very debilitating anxiety disorder, as well as frequent panic attacks. Learning mindfulness techniques taught me how to be more present and connected to my body, thoughts and emotions. Rather than fighting them, I now know how to be present with them. In fact, before becoming a holistic health and wellness coach, I was very sick and bedridden for 4.5 years. During that time, I wasn't sure if I would ever heal, let alone survive, what I was going through. Implementing my mindfulness practices every day - and sometimes, every hour - was crucial to my healing because it helped me reframe my mindset so I could lean into my experiences and focus on healing.
Professionally, I now teach and lead my clients in mindfulness-based practices. It's wonderful to see how it can be such a powerful tool in transforming their anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues so they can live happier, healthier lives.
--Casey Kaczmarek, M.A., Health Coach Casey
Mindfulness is often simplistically equated to being in the now; in the present. Well, as you will learn through this article, that is merely a manifestation of 'remembering' where we must be for getting the results we seek.
The fact is, the word mind has nothing to do with the brain. Being mindful means 'to remember.' When the sign on a low ceiling says ‘mind your head,’ it means remember that there is a low ceiling and therefore don’t raise your head. Also remember that you have a head. You will agree that machines never forget what has once been inputted to them. Anyone who has set an alarm on their cell phone knows how easy it is to program a machine. So while your cell phone could be construed as mindful, it is so without awareness of what it is doing, without conscience or consciousness. Humans, however, can be integrate all those factors into mindfulness.
Hence, as mindful humans we must strive to cultivate habits that serve us to retain, rebuild and enhance our energy. How is that, you wonder? Let us understand that at 3 levels:
Body: How mindful awareness heals us
When we breathe with mindfulness (awareness of where we direct the air through our minds-eye), we can breathe into pained parts and eliminate aches. Though this comes to us naturally, the effects are amplified with mindfulness. For example, when you have been sitting at a computer for long, what do you do when you take a break? You stretch your arms out and expand your chest. Why? Because the upper torso had been contracted all the while your arms were in front of it. So, it had been receiving lesser oxygen, and your body knows how to compensate for that.
Mind: How mindful examination uplifts us
Mindful living puts us in direct touch with our inner power. Since it involves our awareness of our emotions, we can check for low vibrations like guilt, shame, anger, fear, jealousy and the like, and replace them mindfully with higher vibes like compassion, security, self-assurance, love and acceptance. With practice, this vibe-switchng is as easy as changing the body's postures as we just agreed (from contraction to stretch), A vibration/vibe is merely a posture of the mind. The understanding of this is what adepts like the Dalai Lama use, to stay in blissful equanimity all the time.
Spirit: How mindful control accelerates us
The key lies in being mindful of what one can control and what one cannot, and letting go of the latter. For it is only in such a framework that we can focus on doing the best with whatever it is we can control. Let's say Anna is in the business of supplying pizzas. If she loses her energy worrying about the rising costs of flour and tomatoes during the lockdown (factors she cannot control), she will probably hurt her business. However, if she cements her customer-relations with great pizzas well-delivered, she could even charge a premium and grow new customers.
Mindfulness is hopelessly under-rated in modern society. If it were a modern invention, commercially marketable, we would have, by now, mindfulness shots to boost memory power. Perhaps even mindfulness syrup for passing exams, mindfulness cream for maximizing productivity, mindfulness strap-on to reduce stress.
Unfortunately, the route to mindfulness hasn’t changed in 2500 years since the Buddha established it. It lies in Feeling… in awareness of the breath. Thinking… in awareness of the vibes. And Doing… in awareness of what's controllable. Center your body to know what you feel. Center your mind to discover what you think. Center your spirit to figure what to do.
--Sandeep Nath, Author of Renewal
Psychologists use mindfulness as a therapeutic intervention to disengage from distorted thought patterns, including ruminative and negative thoughts, to teach that thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations are transient, and to connect with the body and reality. These methods are designed to move attention from “doing” to “being” in the present moment. Mindfulness is shown to be related to emotional experiencing and responding, as well as to the alleviation of human suffering (Langer, 1989). Empirical literature on the effects of mindfulness interventions suggest that this approach may lead to reductions in a variety of problematic conditions, including pain, stress, anxiety, depression, personality disorders, disordered eating, and addictions (Guendeleman, Medeiros, & Rampes, 2017). Research shows that a practice of mindfulness meditation highlights structural changes in the brain due to the intentional focus on the present moment (Farb et al., 2007). Imaging shows that experienced meditators have a smaller amygdala due to continued activation of the Direct Experience Network, leading to decreased stress and negative emotions (Farb et al., 2007). Mindfulness meditation is growing popular in many fields, including those related to healthcare. Benefits of meditation include improving memory, relationships, coordination, ability to think clearly and make decisions, increased longevity, reducing fatigue and exhaustion, amongst others.
--Dr. Devin Lincenberg, Recovia
Mindfulness is often used to ease undesirable conditions like stress, anxiety and depression. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that it can also increase the desirable! Frequently being mindful can make you happier.
One of the ways being mindful boosts my own happiness is enabling me to savour enjoyable experiences. Because I’ve trained my mind to be present (most of the time), I’m able to notice when something feels good and take in all that ‘goodness’.
Research shows savouring like this intensifies the positive emotions that come with doing something you enjoy, making it even more enjoyable. It also makes the experience more memorable, rather than it slipping away or going unnoticed.
--Hanna Milton, a little mindful
For me, mindfulness has taken a lot of practise but I’m glad I persevered because the benefits in terms of the control I now feel I can have over my thoughts and therefore feelings has changed my life.
I’m 31 and used to be on 100mg of Sertraline which is a combined anti-anxiety and anti-depressant. For me, mindfulness is about taking myself off to a quiet space when I start to have feelings of anxiety or overwhelmingly negative thoughts. I have learned to detach myself and ‘be my own therapist’, talking through why I’m having those feelings, what is causing them, how to overcome them and how to deal with the physical side effects.
Through doing this, I was able to slowly drop my dosage of Sertraline and come off them entirely.
I also find mindfulness during exercise to be a great help. I visualise it as ‘tidying my desk’, getting all of my papers filed and in order, ready to start again the next day.
--Laura Kingston, High Life North
Mindfulness is, by definition, a training for your mind to focus. You start practicing by focusing on your breath or parts of your body, and in time, the practice improves the speed of the brain waves involved in cognitive functions, like learning and memory.
In particular, meditation is proven to reduce the amygdala, the portion of our brain responsible of stress and fear. As the amygdala shrinks, it leaves more room for the prefrontal cortex to occupy. A bigger prefrontal cortex leads to making decisions that are more thoughtful. That is how mindfulness is good for stress.
From the point of view of emotional wellbeing, mindfulness helps you observe negative and stressful emotions, and teaches you to let them be. This helps you become more emotionally mature, and to know yourself better.
Moreover, mindfulness is a powerful ally against social stress, because it fosters acceptance, self-esteem and emotion regulation strategies, helping practitioners recover more quickly from the pressure coming from social-evaluative threats.
--Eleonora Angelici, Healthy Words
In order to have access to your intuition you need mindfulness. Both are the superpowers of next generation leaders. High speed environments and increasing complexity make intuitive decisions for leaders increasingly important. According to recent findings, they are more efficient, faster and often better than rational approaches. But this does not mean the end of rational thinking; it is important to find the right balance between both.
Imagine, you have an important decision to make, and suddenly, out of the blue, you know how it should be. If you were asked why, it would be difficult for you at first to mention them. Nevertheless, you are certain that you can rely on your gut feeling, which is intuition! Mindfulness opens the door to it. Unlike in conscious thinking, a lot of things happen in intuition unconsciously and lightning-fast. And this ability can be trained, enhanced and deepened.
--Asim Aliloski, asimaliloski.com
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