Mindfulness is all the rage right now, from corporate America sending their executives on mindfulness retreats, to Hollywood stars and individuals using apps such as Headspace to get in their daily mindfulness meditation session.
But what is it?
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to the experience. ( Psychology Today)
In a nutshell, this means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.
Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Buddhist monks have been practicing meditation for thousands of years, and it’s only during the last 50 years or so that mindfulness meditation has started to creep into North American culture, with the biggest influx happening right now.
What are the benefits of mindfulness meditation?
Multiple studies are now showing that meditation can actually change your brain. Even after just 20 minutes 3x/week studies have shown differences in brain function, and increased gamma waves, which are intertwined with attention, learning, memory and consciousness.
- Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
- Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.
- By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.
Medically, mindfulness meditation can help with:
- help relieve stress
- treat heart disease
- lower blood pressure
- reduce chronic pain
- improve sleep
- alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties
From a mental health perspective, mindfulness meditation can help with:
- substance abuse
- eating disorders
- couples’ conflicts
- anxiety disorders
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
Even in the news recently has been a school that replaced detention with meditation and has had amazing results.
If you’re feeling over stressed, you have trouble focusing, or you just need to learn to relax, you should definitely try mindfulness meditation.