According to Mindful.org, mindfulness is a basic ability of humans to be completely present and aware of where we are and what we are doing, without being overwhelmed or overly reactive. Though every one of us naturally possesses this ability, it becomes more available when we practice it daily. Being mindful through mindfulness meditation means bringing awareness to our current experience via our senses or to our state of mind through our emotions and thoughts. Research indicates that by training our brain to be more mindful, we are rejuvenating its physical structure.
Is Mindfulness a Good Option for You?
Without doubt, everyone can practice mindfulness and there are no limitations like age, religion, sex, sexual preference, physical abilities, etc. Mindfulness is not something unknown or obscure, but on the contrary, it is what we are already doing and who we already are. As we have the potential of being present, mindfulness does not require from us to change who we are. Instead, with the help of scientifically-proven methods, we refine these inborn properties.
Proven Advantages of Mindfulness
The most common signs of chronic stress are:
- Constant worrying and anxiousness
- Easily irritable and annoyed
- Defensive and argumentative with others
- Sleeping problems
- Low energy
- Waking up tired
- Very self-critical and critical of others
- Lack of inspiration
- Poor concentration
- Skin issues
As seen on Positive Psychology Program, there is mounting scientific data proving the ability of mindfulness to minimize stress by easing the response to daily stressors and by minimizing avoidance and increasing coping mechanisms as a response. Unfortunately, as we live in a time where negative stress has become a part of our day-to-day lives, learning how to be more mindful can improve our stress-handling abilities and mood by bettering our regulation of emotions.
When one achieves proper relaxation through mindfulness, they will significantly better and strengthen their:
- Brain function
- Blood pressure
- Heart rate
- Focus and attention
- Perception and thinking
Reduction in depression
Mindfulness practice can be a beneficial, additional treatment for depression by decreasing anxiety, stress, overthinking, and depressive symptoms and by elevating self-compassion, studies point out. Individuals who suffer from depression will be able to improve their capacity to have a better control over their emotions and thus, move away from strong and negative feelings by identifying and accepting them instead of trying to fight them off.
Optimal Overall Health
According to a 2016 study, mindfulness practice has the power to improve health-related behaviors in people like doing more frequent check-ups, being more physically active, putting seat belts on, and staying away from alcohol and nicotine. From a study done in 2015, it was concluded that mindfulness can balance the blood pressure while a 2017 study showed that mindfulness assisted participants to shed surplus weight and make positive changes in their diets.
Several studies have shown that students experienced reduction in reactivity, a higher level of curiosity, more tolerance, patience, and self-acceptance, as well as lower rates of problematic drinking after introducing mindfulness in their lives. Other benefits young people can get from enhancing their awareness of the present moment are vitality, psychological well-being, and better academic performance and success.
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness practice is highly accessible for everyone and it can be done literally everywhere. From a simple pause and remembering to breathe when the telephone rings instead of rushing to get it to daily guided mindfulness meditations, this practice is always a good idea for one’s overall health and well-being.
Tuning in Mindfully
- Find a peaceful area or spot without too much clutter and inside or outside and sit comfortable
- Begin observing your surroundings and try to remain in the present moment in all its form and remember, the purpose is not to quiet down the mind entirely, but to try your best to reach a state of calmness by ignoring judgment
- When judgments arise, simply note them mentally and let them pass. Go back to observing the present moment
- The goal of mindfulness is to be able to recognize when your mind has wandered off and bring it back to the right track- the present moment
Bringing Mindfulness to the Next Level
As with almost any other practice, mindfulness also requires consistency and dedication in order to reap its benefits. This can be easily achieved with the mindfulness schedule created by Dr. Amit Sood.
Monday- Time for gratitude
Include the things you are grateful for throughout the day in your meditation.
Tuesday- Time for compassion
Set a goal to lower pain or suffering in others that you have seen throughout the day.
Learn to accept and appreciate yourself as you are, but other people too.
Thursday- Purpose and meaning
On this day, reflect on your purpose in life and on what is meaningful to you.
When forgiving others’ wrongdoings, do not forget to forgive yourself too.
Always make time to celebrate the happiness in your life and in the life of those around you.
Meditate on the events from the past week, month, or year by increasing your awareness through mindfulness or prayer.
How to Lead a “Mindful Diet”
As noted on Shape, introducing a mindful style of eating can also be of great aid and better one’s relationship with food and weight loss. According to nutritionists and mental health experts, mindful eating means slowing down and being more capable of noticing your hunger and emotions, which will consequently help you to actually taste the food in the mouth and eat only when you are hungry, which will avert overeating.
This being said, a “mindful diet” can help minimize the negative stress revolving around eating, which is often a result of the fact that a lot of us are accustomed to only eat when we need to, and show us another perspective of food and help us enjoy it more.
As Amanda Kozimor-Perrin puts it, this practice can significantly strengthen and alleviate your relation to food and avert emotional eating by helping you implement effective practices like exercising and meditation. Hence, one will remove the belief that food is divided into “good” or “bad” and will stop feeling as if they are controlled by food, Perrin further explains.