By Priscilla Ortega
Mindfulness meditation is a powerful and ancient meditation technique that is proven to help reduce stress, alleviate anxiety and depression, and even help with pain and illness. By retraining your mind to stay present and calm, mindfulness meditation helps create long-lasting changes and positive, healthy habits.
When we are mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, as well as gain insight and awareness, all through observing our own mind. This also helps us to increase our attention to others’ well-being. Mindfulness meditation gives us time in our lives where we can suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind.
Mindfulness meditation has been adopted by psychologists, healthcare professionals, and other secular organizations as an effective way to deal with the stresses and illnesses of the modern world.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, mindfulness works, to a certain extent, by helping people to accept their experiences, including painful emotions, rather than reacting to them with aversion and avoidance.
It has become increasingly common for mindfulness meditation to be combined with psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy. This development makes sense since both meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy share the common goal of helping people gain perspective on irrational, maladaptive, and self-defeating thoughts.
Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life. Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with unfortunate events. By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem and are better able to form deep connections with others.
If greater wellbeing isn’t enough of an encouragement, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques also help to improve physical health in a number of ways. According to Mindful, a nonprofit organization seeking to spread awareness of mindful meditation, mindfulness can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, and improve sleep.
Mindfulness can also improve mental health. In recent years, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important element in the treatment of a number of problems, including depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and anxiety disorders.
There is more than one way to practice mindfulness meditation, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to thoughts and mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation. Above all, mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever arises in your awareness at each moment.