10 Ways Mindfulness Can Help You
Mindfulness provides a plethora of pleasures that you can experience for yourself. As soon as you start being mindful on a regular basis you’ll find mindfulness is really quite addictive!
Mindfulness trains the brain
With the help of the Dalai Lama, top neuroscientist Professor Richard Davidson scanned the brains of meditating monks who’d engaged in prolonged meditation for a minimum of 10,000 hours. The meditation they did was a compassion meditation. The monks’ brains totally changed through the practice of this meditation.
The front left part of the brain associated with positivity was activated – in fact, it went off the scale! No scientist had ever seen so much positive effect in a human being before.
The more you practice, the greater the positive change within your brain.
Mindfulness improves relationships
Several studies show that people’s relationships tend to improve when they begin to practice mindfulness meditation. Several reasons indicate why this may be the case.
Mindfulness can switch off stress. Mindfulness makes you more relaxed in your day-to-day life, keeping your body and mind from engaging in a stress response.
Research also shows that meditators are less judgmental and more focused in the moment, even when they’re not meditating.
Mindfulness leads to higher levels of empathy and compassion for both yourself and others. A more caring attitude naturally leads you to give greater levels of attention and helps you to see from other people’s perspective.
Mindfulness boosts creativity
Your creativity depends entirely on your state of mind. Mindfulness meditation is about being aware of your thoughts without judging them; this lack of judgment allows new and unique ways of thinking to arise. In most creativity exercises, the emphasis is always to stop judging ideas and just let them flow – in a practice called choiceless awareness, you do exactly the same thing.
Mindfulness reduces depression
Some types of depression are thought to be caused by repetitive negative thinking patterns (rumination) and avoiding uncomfortable thoughts and feelings rather than facing up to them. Mindfulness helps combat depression in several ways. Mindfulness:
Develops your capacity to stay with, experience and face difficult experiences and emotions instead of avoiding them. Avoiding difficult emotions has been found to be the key way in which relapsing into depression occurs.
Shifts you towards a ‘being mode’ of mind. This being mode enables you to witness your depression as something that rises and falls within you, rather than as a core part of who you are.
Helps you to understand the patterns of the mind. Being mindful helps you to see how your mind easily goes into negative thinking cycles, leading to further depression.
Develops healthier habits of mind. Mindfulness disables this negative thinking cycle by encouraging you to connect your attention to the present moment.
Mindfulness reduces chronic pain
Participation in Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program has shown, in several research studies, the benefits of mindfulness for those suffering from chronic pain.
In one study, 90 patients suffering chronic pain were trained in mindfulness meditation for ten weeks. Experts observed a significant reduction in pain, negative body image, negative moods, anxiety and depression. The patients engaged in more activities, which they’d struggled with before. The use of pain-reduction drugs decreased and feelings of self-esteem increased.
A follow-up four years later revealed that the majority of the chronic pain patients reported lasting improvements, some even reporting further improvements. Over 90 percent of the participants continued to practice meditation.
Mindfulness gives deeper meaning to life
When you’ve touched a sense of deep peace and calmness within yourself, you no longer ask what the meaning or purpose of life is. You’re clear in your own mind that peace, kindness, empathy and joy are available to be cultivated in your own being.
You know that the suffering, pain and sorrow in the world is partly a reflection of humanity’s inability to tap into this inner source of nourishment. Then you know that your purpose is to access your own inner resources as often and as deeply as possible for the sake of everyone around you. Wellbeing is contagious.
Mindfulness reduces stress
Mindfulness reduces stress in many ways and at many different levels. Being mindful helps you notice the fact that you’re stressed. Being aware of your reactions, changes them, and allows you to respond with greater wisdom.
Secondly, through regular practice of mindfulness meditation, you provide a space for yourself to simply be. This ‘being’ mode is tremendously nourishing and uplifts your inner resources for relaxing rather than stressing out.
Thirdly, you begin to see things from a different perspective.
Mindfulness combats anxiety
Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety in their lives. However, if you suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder, the feeling becomes a part of your day-to-day existence.
Anxiety and worry are based on thinking about the future. Mindfulness counteracts this by encouraging you to live in the here and now, allowing yourself to emerge in the sensory world of the present.
Mindfulness regulates eating habits
Are you aware of what you eat? Do you give your attention to what you’re eating, or do you distract yourself with television? Do you use food as a way of coping with unpleasant emotions?
Perhaps stress drives you to open the fridge door, or makes you limit your food to feel more in control. Mindfulness offers a different way of regulating and coping with your difficult and uncomfortable emotions rather than by eating, or avoiding eating.
Mindfulness increases happiness
What’s the best way to increase happiness? Positive psychologists, scientists that study happiness, think that mindfulness is the answer. Mindfulness seems to train the brain to naturally become more positive, and increases resilience. Resilience is the capacity to cope with stress and catastrophe in a healthy way.
Through practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, you also begin to discover that happiness is an inside job. If your mind is naturally open, receptive and positive, you’ll experience a deeper sense of wellbeing.