Mindfulness is a popular word that you might get seen thrown around a lot. It has become popular pretty much across the board. There is, however, a good reason for this. Mindfulness is a very effective way of reducing stress and obtaining a wide variety of psychological and emotional benefits with a strong evidence base behind it. But before we discuss the uses of mindfulness, let’s consider what it is.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness refers to both a state and a practice. Its main feature is a moment-by-moment awareness of everything going on inside us and around us, including our thoughts, feelings, sensations, environment, and more. This awareness is cultivated to be non-judgmental and gentle and can be improved with practice. In mindfulness, we do not judge or label our experiences but just observe them and let them come as they are.

For example, we might feel anger. In a  non-mindful approach, we might try to get rid of this anger because it’s “wrong”, while in a mindful approach, we would instead accept it as what we experience and let it come and go without judgment, observing the anger and taking it as it comes.

Related: 100 Mindfulness Quotes to Help You Stay Grounded

Mindfulness characteristics

Mindfulness involves several essential elements. First, there is the focus on the present – what is going on with us and around us here and now. This contrasts with a situation in which our mind constantly wanders, going to future worries or past regrets or simply daydreaming. Instead, we try to keep the focus on our present moment.   Second, there is the non-judgment, focused on acceptance – allowing our thoughts, sensations, and feelings to be without labeling them as right or wrong.  We also will not judge ourselves if our mind drifts. This, in essence, is mindfulness.

It comes from Buddhist practices, but the mindfulness taught today is fully secular. There have been successful programs developed in the past decades and tested to practice mindfulness and make it a part of our daily life. But why should we take up mindfulness?

Health benefits of mindfulness

Mindfulness has a variety of health benefits, improving both our physical and our mental health. The benefits of this practice have been established through years of study. Mindfulness can enhance the quality of sleep and boost our immune system. It can increase positive emotions and reduce stress, which has a positive influence on our mental health and physical health as well. Mindfulness makes us more compassionate and kind, which in turn can provide additional benefits for the mind and the body.

Mindfulness appears to improve relationships, including the relationship we construct with ourselves, providing a boost to our confidence, self-esteem, and more. It can also contribute to a healthy weight, as we become more aware of what we eat. For businesses, schools, and even prisons, mindfulness training programs have significantly improved work and personal outcomes regarding stress, productivity, and health.

Even a little bit of mindfulness can make a difference. However, the more you practice, the more benefits you are likely to get. For instance, much of the research on the benefits of mindfulness was done using an 8-week training program that made participants dedicate a couple of hours per week to the practice.

How to practice mindfulness in daily life

Now that we have understood what mindfulness is and how it can benefit us let’s take a look at how we can practice it and make it a  part of our daily life.

Meditation

The first way is through the practice of meditation. There are mindfulness meditation and other types of meditation that can help increase the presence of mindfulness in our lives. In general, meditation refers to the practice of focused attention. You might focus on your breathing, current experiences, and sensations, or a specific idea or thought. Meditation requires a few minutes of sustained attention. A beginner can start at five or ten or fifteen, while more experienced meditators can do it longer. Start with a time that feels comfortable to you.

Related: 60 Mindfulness Affirmations to Rewire Your Mind

Body scan

Meditation is not the only way in which you can practice mindfulness. There are different techniques. There is the body scan, which involves focusing slowly on different parts of your body and recognizing how they feel, going from your toes to the top of your head, and holding your attention in place for each separate part. You might take moments to breathe mindfully and bring your attention to each breath, even if it is just for a second.

Adding mindfulness to daily activities

You can add an element of mindfulness to a  specific daily activity, for example, taking a bath, washing the dishes, eating a bite of food. If you do it while giving your full attention to the process, you are practicing mindfulness at this time. Many find that focusing on yourself as you walk is a good way of integrating the practice, even if it is just for a few paces.

Choosing to engage with mindfulness, it’s worth being consistent and giving it some time. You might track your results along with a mood tracker or other measures to see if it is working for you.

Related: How to Practice Mindfulness Throughout the Day

Final thoughts

Overall, mindfulness is a highly recommended practice. Although some individuals with serious mental health issues might be careful in implementing it, there are no secondary effects for most people. However, for most people, it is a positive practice that requires only a little time and that can significantly improve with practice.

Getting started with mindfulness can be accomplished with only 5-15 minutes a day, but the benefits you can get are significant and long-lasting. Discover how well mindfulness can work for you.

References

  1. Carson, James & Carson, Kimberly & Gil, Karen. (2004). Mindfulness-Based Relationship Enhancement. Behavior Therapy. 35. 471-494. 10.1016/S0005-7894(04)80028-5.
  2. Condon, P., Desbordes, G., Miller, W. B., & DeSteno, D. (2013). Meditation Increases Compassionate Responses to Suffering. Psychological Science, 24(10), 2125–2127. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613485603
  3. Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F., Urbanowski, F., Harrington, A., Bonus, K., & Sheridan, J. F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic medicine, 65(4), 564–570. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.psy.0000077505.67574.e3
  4. Keng, S. L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies. Clinical psychology review, 31(6), 1041–1056. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006
  5. Kristeller, J. L., Baer, R. A., & Quillian-Wolever, R. (2006). Mindfulness based approaches to eating disorders. In R. A. Baer (Ed.), Mindfulness-based treatment approaches. Burlington: Academic.
  6. The Greater Good Science Center. (2021). What is mindfulness? Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition#what-is-mindfulness
  7. Christopher A. Pepping, Analise O’Donovan & Penelope J. Davis (2013) The positive effects of mindfulness on self-esteem, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8:5, 376-386, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2013.807353

 

 

 

 

Spread the love

About the Author

Hermione M.

My name is Hermione. I am the founder of WomenH and I write about women's health, wellness, mental health, and personal growth. I created this platform to inspire women to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to become their best selves. Thank you for stopping by.

View All Articles