Everyone is talking about mindfulness lately, but what exactly is it? Read this to learn about the power of mindfulness and how it can change your life.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were a magic cure-all for stress, depression, anxiety, pain management, and better focus? What about a remedy that could be applied anywhere, at any time, and in any situation?
You might be thinking, ‘yeah, there’s a pill for that…’ but this is not a pill. It’s not actually magic, either.
This wonderful cure-all that we’re talking about is the power of mindfulness. No, this isn’t about your mom lecturing you on, ‘be mindful of your words.’ Instead, this is more about how to learn mindfulness and meditation allowing you peace throughout your existence.
Keep reading for more information about the life-changing effects of mindfulness!
What Exactly IS Mindfulness?
Simply explained, mindfulness is a form of meditation. Meditation is the practice of focusing on something that allows the mind to be peaceful, calm, and silent.
Mindfulness meditation focuses on bringing one’s thoughts to the present moment. This practice can occur formally or informally. Most people find it easier to practice formal meditation first and eventually build to informal. However, it doesn’t really matter which you start with.
Formal mindfulness meditation is basically sitting down with the intent to be mindful. Very often, to achieve mindfulness in this way, a focus is placed on the breath.
Informal mindfulness is similar to the above however is practiced anywhere and anytime. This practice allows you to bring your thoughts back to the present which reduces anxiety, anger, stress, and a host of other negative emotions.
Mindfulness for Beginners
The great thing about mindfulness meditation is that you don’t have to start out practicing it for 20 minutes per day. In fact, you don’t ever have to meditate for 20 minutes per day (but you’ll probably want to!)
A common problem for beginners is not being able to still their mind. This is natural. The brain is wired to process thoughts.
One of the easiest ways to learn mindfulness is by sitting quietly, focusing only on your breathing. Feel the rise and fall of your chest, the cool air as it enters your nostrils, and the warm air as it exits them.
Finding yourself drifting or thinking about other things is okay. Just bring yourself back to the present by refocusing on your breath.
Other people find that guided meditations are the easiest way to learn mindfulness. There are CDs and apps devoted to teaching mindfulness.
Michael Mirdad is on many people’s list of their favorite meditation guides.
Psychological Benefits of Mindfulness
We can list off benefits like reduction of stress, depression, and anxiety as well as more focus.
However, these benefits are meaningless without science backing them.
Clinical studies have shown that practicing mindfulness and meditation will result in lower levels of psychological stress. This doesn’t indicate that mindfulness is a replacement for medical treatment, but shows that it can be used to supplement it or lower dosages of medications.
Decreased symptoms of depression is another benefit of mindfulness. These decreased symptoms happen because meditation decreases the number of cytokines in the brain.
Cytokines are inflammatory chemicals that make depression worse.
Attention-span and memory are two other things affected by meditation. The length of your attention-span can be increased by even a few days of mindfulness. Memory is also positively affected by the increased brain activity.
Mindfulness is also thought to help with addictions–and not just drugs or alcohol. It has been shown to help with many types of addiction including food-related ones.
The practice of mindfulness helps with addictions because it improves self-control, awareness of any triggers, and impulse-control.
Mind Over Matter
The above section lists several psychological benefits of meditation but the power of mindfulness can also be used for its physical benefits.
Mindfulness not only can help people addicted to food and overeating, but it can also help you choose healthier foods on a regular basis. This results in weight loss.
For people with active minds, sleeping can sometimes be a problem. It may seem like your mind won’t stop and you can’t fall asleep for fear of missing an important idea.
Practicing meditation before bed can help this problem. It’ll help calm your mind and quiet your thoughts while relaxing and preparing you for sleep.
Better sleep means your levels of cortisol will be lower during the day resulting in less stress and lower blood pressure.
Another life-changing benefit to mindfulness is gaining the ability to better cope with pain. This isn’t to say you’ll never experience pain again but that when you do, less medication will be needed.
Less medication is always a good thing because it keeps the mind clear and lessens the chance of dependence on opioids.
Meditation and Changing Lives
It should be clear that mindfulness meditation can change your life. By changing your life, though, it may change other people’s.
Practicing mindfulness is known to promote kindness. This might seem a bit odd, however, the decreased depression leads to kinder inner thoughts.
Being kind and loving toward yourself helps you feel that way towards other people. It may help you with patience or give you the ability to not have a minor breakdown when something unfavorable happens.
With this said, the power of mindfulness reaches further than just your own life. It can affect any and everyone you come into contact with.
The Power of Mindfulness: Not Magic
Although we compared mindfulness to magic at first, it is definitely not magical. The effects may seem that way but it all truly comes from the brain and can be scientifically explained.
The power of mindfulness shouldn’t be used to replace medication or therapy but instead, add to your life and supplement your treatment plan.
Even if there is no diagnosis matching the ones mentioned, mindfulness can still be practiced and benefits will be seen.
Learning mindfulness can be as easy as buying a CD, downloading an app, or simply focusing on breathing. You can do it anywhere but a quiet place is helpful to start.
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