Devised by Buddhists as part of their Noble Eightfold Path and a core component of hatha yoga, mindfulness is a self-development technique that has become increasingly popular over recent years. This practice focuses on a mind-body connection and therefore has a metal and physical aspect to it. By definition, mindfulness can be simply described as the practice of living in the moment while letting go of judgment. Being mindful can have health benefits on a psychological level. But, before delving into that, first let’s find out how the technique of mindfulness works.
How Mindfulness Works
Mindfulness centers on the art of meditation. A person can meditate when engaging in activities such as walking, tai chi, qigong, hatha yoga or while remaining in a still seated position. During this process, the participant can recite a mantra or opt to stay quiet while focusing on the breathing rhythm. The key to cultivating mindfulness is blocking out thoughts about the past or future and paying more attention to what is going on in the body. When thoughts wander, a person goes back to a mindful state by focusing on breaths or the mantra being recited repeatedly.
With continued practice, individuals can learn to apply mindfulness in everyday life. For example, a mindful person can work toward being non-judgmental by identifying prejudices in personal thoughts and make efforts to replace them with an impartial perspective. Through mindfulness, it is also possible to create space between a stressful situation and yourself, and then choose how to respond. Taking a step back from negative thoughts helps you to observe them more objectively.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation has been associated with many health benefits. It helps to relax and clear the mind while at the same time slowing down heart rate, thoughts and anxiety. Consequently, taking a few minutes of your time to practice this technique on a daily basis can help to reduce stress.
When we are mindful, it helps us to deal with emotions in a healthy way. This practice can help us understand, tolerate and deal with feelings by altering our habitual responses and deciding how to act. In doing so, we learn more about our thinking process and are able to label emotions and thoughts instead of letting them dictate and overpower our behavior.
Besides easing stress and helping people become more aware of emotions and thoughts, mindfulness can help people to:
- Become more emotionally stable
- Keep anxiety and depression at bay
- Improve memory, focus and sleep
- Reduce feelings of anger and moodiness
- Enhance self-awareness, fear modulation and intuition
Given the many health benefits that have been tied to it, mindfulness has grown to become a powerful tool that is used in therapy. Therapists who practice it have reported better outcomes with their patients. For people who want to cultivate personal awareness, reduce stress or learn how to better handle emotions, mindfulness can play an instrumental role in achieving these goals. Practitioners of this technique believe that over time, mindfulness becomes ingrained in a person’s way of thinking.