If you’ve been paying attention to the Internet and social media as of late, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the rave about mindfulness.
You have probably read about this technique changing people’s lives and how it has even been backed by scientific evidence.
Despite the data behind it, some people are still in the dark about the benefits of mindfulness.
Swap Mindlessness for Mindfulness
One of the biggest benefits of mindfulness is it teaches you to break the cycle of living in a state of mindlessness.
Mindlessness just pretty much means that your mind goes on autopilot and you really just do things without thinking about them.
Some of the latest research shows that most people are operating on autopilot right around 47% of the time.
Have you ever been driving your vehicle and when you arrive at your destination you don’t remember anything about the ride there?
Maybe you are eating a bag of chips and the next thing you know all the chips are gone, but you don’t remember eating them. These situations happen every day, and they’re the perfect example of mindlessness.
So, you can already see how dangerous mindlessness can be, but what is mindfulness and how can it improve your mind and body?
Mindfulness is the exact opposite of mindlessness. It means taking your mind out of the autopilot mode, so you immediately start to realize everything that is going on around you.
Most people practice mindfulness by teaching themselves to become aware of everything around them on a moment-to-moment basis. This could include being aware of your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and surroundings.
Mindfulness should also involve having a non-judgmental attitude. It literally means that you pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings while having the attitude of an impartial viewer.
You cannot take what you are doing personally. You cannot be offended by your thoughts or feelings.
The 4 Categories of Mindfulness
Most experts will break mindfulness down into four different categories:
Pay attention is just pretty much the definition of mindfulness. It just means that you are aware of your current thoughts and feelings, as well as what is going on around you.
This stage of mindfulness means that you are consciously and deliberately directing your attention to what is going on around you. This helps you become more awake and aware, while fully being yourself in the process.
In The Present Moment
If you don’t learn to control your mind, it is just going to wander away from the present.
It will probably get caught up on thinking about past events and projecting future ones. This means that you are rarely living in the present.
Mindfulness can change all that and get you focused on the now. The past is the past, you cannot change what happened and you truly never know what the future is going to being.
Being in the present will help you relieve the tension and stress of worrying about what happened or what is going to happen.
Anytime you are trying to be mindful, you need to learn not to control or suppress your thoughts.
This is where being non-judgmental comes in handy.
You have to learn to pay attention to your own thought and feelings without judging them.
8 Benefits of Mindfulness
Now, you know a little bit about mindfulness and mindlessness, you’re probably starting to see that practicing mindfulness can help you in a variety of different ways.
Here are eight amazing benefits of mindfulness for your mind and body:
1. Eliminate Stress
Stress is a major negative that no one wants in their life. Unfortunately, it is something that everyone has to deal with.
Well, mindfulness can be an extremely effective way to fight stress. Over the years there have been a variety of different studies showing the benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction.
In one study involving present-moment awareness, it showed that mindfulness could help you learn to adapt feelings and emotions that will alleviate this stress.
Mindfulness also helps you handle stressful situations better, rather than avoid them. Most people try to hide their stress or stick it to the side, which only makes it come back worse.
Confronting it head on is the best option.
With relaxation and self-affirmation tactics of mindfulness, you can tackle stress head on and take on any stressful situation that comes your way.
2. Enhance Your Working Memory
The part of your memory that stores information and recalls it for later purposes is known as working memory.
Many scientists believe there is a strong interrelationship between attention and working memory. This is why mindfulness has such a huge impact on working memory.
A study involving a month-long intensive retreat program proved this to be true.
The participants attended a retreat where they were given mindfulness exercises every day that involved memory recognition. After the intensive month-long retreat all the participants showed results of an improved working memory.
That’s a lesser-known benefit of mindfulness that’s perfect for anyone with memory problems.
3. Reduce Emotional Reactivity
Are you one of those people that reacts without thinking? If so, it has probably had a negative impact on your life.
Well, research shows that mindfulness can actually decrease your emotional response reactivity. A recent study actually showed individuals who practiced mindfulness meditation between one month and 29 years were able to disengage from upsetting situations.
Instead, of getting upset and doing something that they would later regret, these individuals were able to regain their composure, think the situation through, and figure out how to solve it with efficiency.
4. Improve Relationship Communication
Relationships are truly hard. You may love the person that you are in a relationship with, but communicating and paying attention to them all the time can be challenging.
If you have ever forgotten a birthday or forget to stop at the grocery store and pick up dinner like your wife asked, you know exactly what this means.
Well, you might be surprised to learn that several studies have shown that mindfulness can improve communication in your relationships.
5. Increasing Your Body Satisfaction
It is no big secret that a lot of people are displeased with their bodies. In fact, millions of people every year spend thousands to millions of dollars trying to change their appearances.
This will not only lead to financial ruin, but it could also eventually lead to depression, anxiety, and other adverse emotional effects.
Just imagine the money and pain that they would have saved if they could just learn to be happy with themselves and their appearance.
This is exactly where mindfulness can come in handy.
Mindfulness can provide you with greater gain in self-compassion and body appreciation, which can go an extremely long way to appreciating just who you are.
6. Reduce Distraction and Increase Awareness
Being able to concentrate and be aware of what is going on around you is more important than ever. This is especially true when your mind is being pulled in a hundred different directions at once.
Practicing mindfulness can help you achieve these very things. When you become more mindful you will learn to block out those distractions and concentrate on the more important things in life.
This will not only help you become a safer individual, but it could increase your productivity as well.
7. Decreases Chronic Pain
Some scientists believe that mindfulness techniques can be utilized for chronic pain management.
These techniques include five senses exercise, self-inquiry meditation, mini-mindfulness exercises and mindful walking down the street.
All of these techniques have shown to reduce pain, even in cases where patients are afflicted with chronic illnesses, such as lupus, HIV/AIDS, renal disease, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
8. Lower Blood Pressure
Most people with hypertension, better known as high blood pressure, rely on prescription medications to treat their condition.
These medications include ACE inhibitors, diuretics, beta-blockers, angiotensin receptor blockers and calcium channel blockers.
While these medications can be effective in managing blood pressure levels, they also come with a host of unpleasant side effects. Plus, there are natural techniques that offer the same benefits.
One of these techniques is mindfulness meditation, which can be performed in just about type of setting. In fact, college students, emergency room physicians and ICU nurses commonly utilize this technique to control their blood pressure levels.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Are Too Great to Ignore
As you can see, there are plenty of benefits to adding mindfulness into your life. Our list has only scratched the surface.
The best thing about mindfulness is it doesn’t require anything to get started. While mindfulness classes are starting to pop up around the world, it’s really as simple as watching a YouTube video to learn basic mindfulness exercises.
Or better yet, consciously make an effort to become more aware of your surroundings when you walk to your car in the morning. When you’re having lunch, really pay attention to the taste of your food, the sensation of each bite and feeling of satisfaction you have after you’re done.
You may not become a “guru” overnight, but taking little steps can help you reap all of these benefits of mindfulness and much more.