6 Amazing Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the ability to be in tune with your senses, manage all issues with patience, not be overwhelmed by one’s surroundings, be in the present moment, control your emotions and let go of distractions.
The term “Mindfulness”, which comes from the Sanskrit word “Smrti”, literally translates to “that which is remembered”. Mindfulness is the practice of being more aware and awake in every moment of life and acknowledging feelings and emotions without judgment.
Mindfulness is the opposite of forgetfulness. Mindfulness makes us happier, allows us to experience our lives more fully and decreases depression, anxiety, stress and anger.
The Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius once said: “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength.” Mindfulness is the energy that helps us recognize the condition of happiness that is already present in our lives.
Mindful awareness has three key features:
- Purpose: Keep only your goal in your mind
- Presence: Fully engage with your attention in the present moment
- Acceptance: Being non-judgmental towards whatever arises in the moment
By practicing mindfulness in the right way, you will be able to get a lot of benefits in your daily life. In this article we will dive deeper into the 6 main benefits of mindfulness.
1) Reduced Rumination
One of the main benefits of mindfulness is the decrease of rumination. Rumination means thinking about the same thing over and over again, especially about what has happened before. Let’s use an anecdote. When a buffalo eats food, it continues to chew even after eating. In the same way, we humans continue to think about an event after it happened, which is often of no use.
In principle, what is done, is done. Mindfulness helps to reduce overthinking, moving on from the past, and consciously living every moment of life. Several studies have shown that mindfulness helps to reduce rumination.
In one study, Chambers et al. (2008) asked 20 novice meditators to participate in a 10-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat. After the retreat, the meditation group reported significantly higher levels of being mindful compared to the control group.
2) Reduced Stress and Health Issues
Many studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces stress. Stress means being stuck with one thing at an extreme level until it is resolved. Stress is the harmful result of various elements such as overthinking, being over-emotional if no plan is effective, and feeling overwhelmed by everything. Stress is the root of many diseases.
Mindfulness practice helps to control emotions and overthinking, reduces stress, and prevents a variety of diseases. Chronic stress is a significant problem for many adults, which can contribute to a variety of health problems, including an increased risk of depression and anxiety. According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness can be helpful for soothing feelings of anxiety and stress.
In 2010, Hoffman et al. conducted a meta-analysis of 39 studies that explored the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. The researchers concluded that mindfulness-based therapy may be useful in altering affective and cognitive processes that are underlying in multiple clinical issues.
3) Increased Working Memory
Working memory relates to temporal memory. Temporal memory refers to the small things that we do, like when we call someone and forget why we called, when we get water and forget who we were supposed to give it to, or when we put something somewhere and forget where we put it. Mindfulness has the great potential to boost your memory.
Do you also sometimes wonder where you left your keys? Or walked to the kitchen, only to realize you forgot what you wanted to do there? Such moments of forgetfulness are caused by proactive interference – where older memories interfere with your ability to access newer ones.
In a 2019 study, participants received four weeks of mindfulness training. Memory tests indicated that the participants showed great reductions in proactive interference, which resulted in improvements in their short-term memory.
4) Elevated Focus
Another important benefit of mindfulness is the increase in focus. Mindfulness practice strengthens our mind and makes our work more effective by making us more aware of the present.
Nowadays, for many people, their mind cannot concentrate on one thing for a long time anymore. For example, when watching videos on YouTube, many of us prefer to watch videos that are short in duration. Blog articles have a TL;DR section for those that can’t put up with long reading times anymore.
The mind of a human being cannot always tolerate one thing for long and often wants a change, which causes us to regularly lose focus. In other situations our mind may be thinking about different things at the same time, due to which our mind is divided and our focus on the main task is reduced. Mindfulness helps to sharpen our focus and do everything that we do with full awareness.
5) Softened Emotional Reactions
Anything that is different from our feelings or thoughts can make us psychologically emotional and prompt us to stop immediately. Practicing mindfulness can help us to not allow something to overwhelm our nerves, and to control our emotions. It can help to allow emotions to be present, without judgment. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy”, “anger”, “frustration”. Accept the presence of the emotions without judgment and let them go.
6) Improved Relationships
Last, but certainly not least, let’s look into the way mindfulness can benefit our relationships. Understanding each other is essential for lasting relationships. It is said that if you really want to understand someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That is, put yourself in the place of others so that if you understand their perspective better, many complications arising in relationships can be prevented.
The practice of mindfulness can help to create empathy thoughts that can strengthen relationships. Every interaction between you and your partner is an opportunity for mutual appreciation and togetherness. However, when tensions are high and one or both partners are not mindful of their emotions, their words, and their energy, their interactions promote the opposite of togetherness: weakening the trust, connection, and deep intimacy you both yearn for.
One of the mechanisms through which we can improve our relationships occurs through mindfulness’ ability to improve executive control, which refers to a “broad collection of higher-order cognitive functions that allow individuals to flexibly regulate their thoughts and actions in the service of adaptive, goal-directed behavior” (Frontiers).
Mindfulness practice helps to shift unconscious behaviors that impact your relationships. Since many of your behaviors and responses in relationships are conditioned and habitual, shifting them in positive ways takes more than conscious effort.
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