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Have you ever experienced feelings of anxiety, stress, and tension? You're not alone. Many people encounter these challenges.
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Mindfulness is the practice of living in the present moment with openness and curiosity. It teaches becoming intensely aware through maintaining a profound, moment-by-moment connection with thoughts, feelings, and physical surroundings judgment-free.
It is possible to cultivate awareness and peace during meditation and mindfulness, but these two practices have some key differences. In the state of mindfulness, awareness shifts to nothing – there is no focus. There is no specific intention during mindfulness the way there is in formal meditation. Instead, mindfulness is a conscious state where the mindset of meditation is applied.
Dr. Jon Labat-Zinn from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center emphasizes that although we can cultivate mindfulness through meditation, it is not the only way to do so.
“It's not really about sitting in the full lotus, like pretending you're a statue in a British museum. It's about living your life as if it mattered, with moment to moment awareness,” he says in this Greater Good video.
Research suggests that mindfulness helps with physical and psychological symptoms. There are numerous benefits of mindfulness that one can reap through regular meditation practice. Some of these include:
Mental health benefits:
Mindfulness meditation practice helps reduce negative emotions and thoughts while promoting positive emotions by targeting the brain area responsible for emotional regulation. Scientists are more frequently researching mindfulness as a type of positive psychology due to the immense benefits it has on mood disorders.
Behavior research found that practicing mindfulness meditation can be a great way to manage stress while boosting compassion, focus, empathy, patience, energy, and happiness. An internal study published in the top mindfulness journal PLOS ONE found that ten days of Headspace mindfulness meditation reduced stress by 14%.
More profound mindfulness skills will develop through regular practice. As the ability to access a mindful state of mind progresses, everyday life fills up with awareness. The role of mindfulness plays an important role in romantic relationships and responses to relationship stress by learning how to avoid becoming overly reactive. Practice meditation and mindfulness frequently for best results.
Mindfulness is a natural human ability to be fully present. It involves focusing on our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surroundings. Observing mental and physical sensations in a given moment creates a state of conscious awareness. There are many different types of mindfulness practice, each with the intent of paying attention to the present moment.
There are many widely diverse mindfulness exercises that one can practice daily. Three of the most commonly practiced simple mindfulness techniques include:
Other mindfulness techniques include seated meditation, observation, guided meditation, and mindful listening.
Not everyone has the time to practice mindfulness meditation every day. That is where these simple practices provide a solution. Our everyday life usually involves eating, walking, and driving; therefore, doing so with the application of mindfulness is an easy and accessible way to practice mindfulness. Use these activities to get in touch with self and the surrounding environment.
In addition to these three exercises, people often practice mindfulness while folding laundry, doing the dishes, brushing their teeth, and performing other miscellaneous activities. Check out our article on mindfulness exercises to learn more.
There are various mindfulness training programs across North America, ideal for those struggling with regular practice. Mindfulness meditation training improves our ability to exist in the present moment throughout our lives.
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn originally developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) to help patients with physical pain and other conditions. Students will meet for two to three hours per week during the eight-week-long program and learn mindfulness as a secular practice to reduce stress. Mindfulness-based stress reduction has helped tens of thousands of people build mindfulness so they can manage pain and negative emotions.
On the other hand, mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a type of psychotherapy that blends mindfulness techniques with traditional cognitive therapy. It incorporates numerous mindfulness practices, including meditation, yoga, and body scan. Plenty of research backs this mindfulness practice up, as it is explicitly used to treat mood disorders.
If neither of these mindfulness training programs suits, many other mindfulness-based courses can provide better support.
Although mindful practices help to learn the fundamentals of mindfulness, taking a course or seeking help from professionals is not always necessary. The first step to mindfulness is paying attention to how we feel – emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally by taking just a few moments throughout the day to check-in.