Mindfulness. It’s a term thrown about constantly in self-help literature and, often, on websites like ours, to be fair. In fact, to be fair it might be best termed “mindfulness meditation”.
But what is mindfulness and why is practicing mindfulness important enough to be on the tips of everyone’s tongue?
Mindfulness: The Simplest Explanation
We live in a stressful world. Thus many turn to mindfulness meditation for mindfulness-based stress-reduction.
We are all constantly thinking about what’s next or what just happened.
But when your mind is constantly in the past or in the future, it’s just generating more stress.
That’s because it’s ignoring the only piece of time that’s actually ours, the present.
So, mindfulness practice is a technique, sometimes also referred to as “mediation” that has us learn to live in the present moment.
The Benefits Of Mindfulness Practices
This mindfulness pratice is immensely beneficial for many reasons. Let’s take a look at some of them.
The first benefit, of mindfulness meditation practice, is obvious, it stops us from becoming stressed.
Why are we worried about the meeting at 5 p.m? Wouldn’t it be better to prepare for it now, instead?
Why are we thinking about the conversation that we had with our partner last night? Wouldn’t it be better to call them and set the record straight, now?
We like to combine practicing mindfulness with minimalism to keep stress to a minimum, mindfulness declutters the mind and spirit and minimalism does the same to our environment.
We think of this as a form of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy which we all have the basic human ability to use in everyday life.
Keeping negative emotions at bay using moment-to-moment awareness drawn from regular meditation practice really helps to manage stress.
When we stop worrying about the time we’re not in, we can focus more easily on now. That means paying attention to what’s really going on that we can affect in the now.
Mindfulness helps keep us in the moment and not thinking about what happened hours ago or what might happen in a week’s time.
And when we’re focused on what we’re doing? We do it better and, often, we do more of it.
That means mindful people are often more productive than those who don’t practice mindfulness.
People who are mindful tend to be more successful, and this seems to be due to the fact that being mindful helps people to better evaluate what really matters in their life.
Mindfulness and meditation provides a sense of purpose and that sense of purpose helps to guide their actions in concert with their values to achieve results.
Thus, mindfulness skills (which can be learned from mindfulness training) are a clear marker of future success.
So, for example, someone who is mindful who decides that they are committed to natural living, is more likely to see that commitment through because they will understand their own motivations and know that it is truly the right thing to do.
And, perhaps, most surprisingly people who practice mindfulness-awareness seem to be healthier than those who do not.
This may be related to the fact that the practice of mindfulness tends to involve modulation of the breath and that helps to reduce activity in the sympathetic nervous system.
In turn, this will bring down tension, heart rate, and blood pressure.
And this leads to better sleep, reduced stress and anxiety and rather less hypertension than in non-mindful people.
It may also help to alleviate pain, particularly chronic pain, as well as problems in the gastrointestinal system!
Finally, on this note, there is also evidence that mindful practices can assist with treating obsessive-compulsive disorders, substance abuse, depression, and relationship issues.
We would like to note, however, that mental health benefits from mindfulness tend to come in conjunction with psychotherapy not as a substitute for it.
Are There Any Downsides To Mindfulness?
There are no downsides to the practice of mindfulness, but it’s worth being aware that the roots of mindfulness lay in Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Daoism.
That mindfulness was adapted from these practices early in the 20th century, mainly by white men, leads some to allege that this is “cultural appropriation”.
If you are concerned about this, you shouldn’t let that stop you from learning and using mindful practices in your life, but you should try to educate yourself more fully on the history and background of the practice.
In this way, you can mindfully appreciate the contributions of everyone who helped build our modern understanding of being mindful.