Mindfulness is a state of being aware and alive in the present moment. It’s an approach to coping with difficult emotions like anxiety or depression, and to lowering stress levels. It is the ability to observe and notice your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the body without judgment or criticism.
Mindful meditation involves paying attention to breathing and focusing on your senses, while acknowledging when your mind wanders into planning, daydreaming or criticizing. You can then gently redirect your attention back to noticing sensations in the present. It’s important to note that mindfulness may be more effective when used in a therapeutic setting and led by a trained professional. Practicing it alone or in a group without training might result in unwanted effects.
Several studies show that practicing mindfulness decreases emotional reactivity and increases emotional regulation. When you are emotionally reactive, you act instinctively or automatically, based on how you’ve been conditioned. This can lead to overreaction and often leads you to do things you later regret. Mindfulness can help you slow down and think before reacting so you’re less likely to do or say something you’ll later regret.
It also helps you increase your awareness of how and why you’re feeling a certain way so you can make healthier choices in the future. People who practice mindfulness regularly report lower levels of depression and stress, better sleep and eating habits, and increased social connection and satisfaction with life.
Researchers are also finding that mindfulness can benefit physical health. For example, it can lower blood pressure and improve mood and sleep, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. It has even been shown to reduce the cellular changes that occur with aging by lengthening telomeres, which protect our cells.
Mindfulness can also help you become a more resilient and adaptable person. When you’re more resilient, it means you’re better able to cope with negative events and setbacks. You’re more capable of responding to challenging situations with more empathy and compassion for yourself and others. It can also help you be less prone to self-criticism, which is a big part of many mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
If you’re interested in trying mindfulness, talk to your doctor or therapist about it. They can give you specific tools and teach you how to do it. If you have a condition that requires medical treatment, it’s important to follow your doctor’s advice and continue with any other forms of therapy or medication. It might take time for mindfulness to work, but it’s worth the effort. It can be life-changing..