The Benefits of Mindfulness
Whilst mindfulness has been around for centuries, after all it’s essentially a practice that Buddhists live by, it’s become much more mainstream in recent years. Which of course is great news for the non-practising Buddhists amongst us, as it enables us to have greater access to the benefits of being mindful.
How, when practised, it can impact your life in a positive way.
Before we get to the many benefits, it’s probably a good idea to explain what mindfulness is:
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Centre for Mindfulness in Medicine, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.”
Whilst this summation is likely to have already helped you better understand the benefits, to make it even clearer, here’s our top 5 benefits of being mindful:
1. Improves overall well-being.
Wouldn’t it be great to feel less stressed in your work life and / or home life?
Mindfulness is known to effectively reduce stress levels, by simply living in the present moment. Not worrying about what happened yesterday, last week, last year or even 5 years ago. Nor is to thinking about what might happen in the future.
Being mindful allows you to accept situations as they arise, in that moment, and deal with them.
Let’s imagine you’ve got an important presentation to give next week. Naturally you’re going to be working hard to ensure it’s as good as it can be to secure the deal, or whatever it’s for.
Many people, without mindfulness, are likely to stress and worry over it. Will it be good enough? What more can be done? And so on.
The night before they may not be able to sleep, or eat beforehand that morning. They’ll get up and go into work feeling tired, lacking energy, focus and clarity. Then half way through the presentation their stomach will start to rumble from hunger.
You may still secure the deal, but you’re body and overall well-being will be a lot worse off.
Mindfulness helps you focus on one thing at a time – the task at hand.
Every day leading up to the meeting, you’ll work on it without actually thinking of physically presenting it. Why would you? That’s in the future.
Instead, you’ll fully concentrate on it. Making sure it’s packed with all the needed information. It’s clear. Focused.
Exactly like you.
Then when the day of the presentation arrives, you’ll have had a good night’s sleep and be able to eat a healthy breakfast because you’re prepared.
The result may be the same, but you’re body and mind will be a lot better off.
2. Improves mental health.
Over the last few years, experts believe that mindfulness can help with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and eating disorders.
This is due, in part, to the concept of mindfulness – acceptance of what has happened, when appropriate dealing with it internally and then coming back to the present again.
Mindfulness helps people to become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, they are better able to manage them.
3. Improves quality of life.
Be living in the moment, you will have a greater sense of awareness of what’s going on around you without drifting off into your own little bubble.
This awareness naturally brings with it higher appreciation levels which in turn improve how you see the people and world around you.
Not only that, but clinical trials show that mindfulness can improve chronic pain and functional disorder conditions such as lower-back pain and IBS – a definite improvement on a sufferers’ quality of life.
4. Improves brain function.
Yes really! As we’ve already explained, mindfulness helps bring greater focus and clarity.
Rather than thinking of a million things at once, it forces you to concentrate on just one thing – what you’re doing right now in the present. By focussing on just one thing alone, mindfulness reduces stress hormones, instead building the areas of your brain that promote self-awareness, learning and attention.
And because mindfulness is known to improve your mood, since there’s not a zillion things going on at the same time, the load on your brain lightens which helps it to function better.
5. Makes you a better person.
How? By giving you back time so you can focus on one thing at a time completely. Giving 100% of yourself to it.
Do you sometimes feel yourself slip away when doing something else?
What with working, spending time with your partner, your family, your friends, keeping up your fitness regime, having hobbies, and of course having some ‘you’ time, it’s easy not to give 100% attention to the present situation as you’re always thinking about the next thing or the next person.
With mindfulness it feels like you’re gaining time. By not constantly thinking about the next thing, but focusing on what you’re doing at that moment – the person you’re with, the exercise class you’re sweating in, the dinner you’re making – the seconds tick by as seconds. You have all the time in the world to pay attention to that one thing, that one person.
Then as that naturally comes to an end, you can allow yourself to give 100% of you to the next thing.
Have you tried being more mindful?