What is Mindfulness?
It is a stressful world. Humans are busy creatures dealing with many tasks on hand from day to day. You plan your day while listening to the radio and commuting to work, and then plan your weekend. In the heat of all the chaos, sometimes we lose ourselves with the present moment. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing attention on the present moment and accepting it. Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to be a key element in stress reduction and happiness.
What are the benefits?
The idea of mindfulness has roots from Buddhism, but most religions have a type of prayer and meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations towards appreciating the moment and a larger perspective on life. Mindfulness practice is now seen in mainstream medicine and demonstrated that practicing mindfulness improves both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health, attitudes, and behaviors.
Mindfulness improves well-being
Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life. Being mindful helps one savor the pleasures in life and help you becoming fully present in activities. Focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness are less caught up in worries and regrets. They are less occupied with concerns about success and self esteem and are better able to form deep connections with others.
Mindfulness improves physical health.
If the greater well-being is not enough of an incentive, scientists have found that mindfulness techniques can improve physical health in many ways. Mindfulness can relieve stress, treat heart disease, reduce chronic pain, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
Mindfulness improves mental health.
Psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditations as an important factor to treat numerous problems such as depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, couple’s conflicts, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How does it work?
Mindfulness helps people accept experiences including painful emotions, rather than react to them harshly. It is becoming increasingly common for mindfulness meditation to combine with other psychotherapies to help people gain perspective on irrational and maladaptive thoughts.
There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, but the goal is to remain alert while being relaxed. The purpose to pay attention to thoughts and sensations without judgment. This can help the mind readjust to the present moment.
Basic mindfulness meditation- Sit quietly and focus on natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and focus on the breath.
Body sensations- Notice body sensations such as tingling or itching without judgment and let it pass. Notice how each part of the body is feeling head to toe.
Sensory- Note tastes, smells, sights, sounds, and touches in the present moment, Name them “sight”, “touch”, “taste”, “sound”, or “smell” without judgment and let them go.
Emotions- Allow emotions to be present without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed approach by naming emotions: “joy”, “anger”, “sadness”. Accept the emotions without judgment and let them go.
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