But how good for you is it really and how exactly can you benefit?
First, let us look at what mindfulness actually is, and then we can explore the five ways it can be helpful to you on a day-to-day basis.
You are right in thinking that mindfulness is a form of meditation. It is, to put it quite simply, the art of paying attention to what is happening in each moment.
Or, at least, to one aspect of what is happening in each moment.
For example, take a moment now just to focus on your breath…
Notice the cool air coming in through your nostrils.
Now breathe out, and notice the warmer air coming out through your nostrils as you exhale.
Now, do this a few more times.
You have just practiced mindfulness!
How did it feel? What did you notice?
Of course, there is no right or wrong answers but besides becoming aware of the experience of breathing (something we do not generally do in the rush of our stressed-out lifestyles), you may have noticed that your habitual “racy” thoughts subsided, and there may have been a few moments of still, quiet, peacefulness.
Do not judge yourself if you did not have these positive feelings. Just accept the experience without labeling it “good” or “bad.” Non-judgment is the most helpful spirit in which to practice mindfulness.
Those moments of quiet, still peacefulness would, in fact, be beneficial.
Benefit Number One
Mindfulness will help you to experience more peacefulness in your life. Some Buddhists suggest you give the “monkey mind” a job, i.e., to focus on the breathe.
Now that the crazy little monkey has a job, the thoughts can quieten and calm down. This allows you to feel peaceful. In turn, your brain waves slow, your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and your body relaxes.
Benefit Number Two
Mindfulness causes your body to relax. In a study where participants practiced mindfulness for just five minutes a day over a three week period, it was found that there were increased reports of stress reduction, more positive relationships with others and “mastery of one’s environment”.
Benefit Number Three
You can become focused on one task at a time. This will allow you to be more productive and accomplish more without being exhausted from the many stressors we deal with everyday.
Mindfulness helps us to break out of our habitual unproductive thought patterns, which may include anxiety, fear and other forms of negative thinking and it allows us to be “present to what is.”
In being present we experience a sense of spaciousness and awareness of the moment and in that spacious awareness we slow down, yet paradoxically we can get more done, and more efficiently too.
Benefit Number Four
Mindfulness increases happiness. By being mindful, we can let go of the past, avoid getting caught up in worries about the future and we can appreciate the joy inherent in each moment: we can smell the scent of a beautiful flower; we can savor a delicious meal, enjoy the feel of the wind on our face, and so on.
Mindfulness also allows us to experience much deeper connections with others. We can be more present to them and experience our relationships more fully.
Benefit Number Five
Mindfulness improves your physical health!
As far-fetched as this sounds, there is plenty of science to back this up. Studies have found that mindfulness can
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve sleep
- Reduce chronic pain
So there you have it! Five beautiful incentives to practice mindfulness and enhance your quality of life and just five minutes a day will benefit you.
What are you waiting for?