8 Reasons why you should practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is becoming very popular, but what really is mindfulness and how can it benefit you? You can think of mindfulness as being fully aware of the present moment. You immerse yourself with all of your senses and focus on what is happening now. Your actions become deliberate and you do not make rash or reactive decisions. You become aware of every movement, thought, and object that you experience. There is no right or wrong thing that you can experience, you just observe it and accept it. The key is not to block anything out of your experience make sure that you take in everything that is presently there. This allows your experience to be whole and not fragmented.
An Easy Mindfulness Practice to help get you started
An easy way to start your mindful practice is to mindfully listen to music. All you need to do is find a quite place and listen to your favorite song. Listen to the song as if it were your first time and become immersed in the music. Try and not let your mind think of something else and be focused on the music that is being played right now. Pay attention to the subtle details of the song and the different rhythms, sounds and accents. When you are totally focus on the act of listing you are improving your ability to become more aware and mindful . You might even notice something new about your favorite song.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
I have been practicing mindfulness for a while now and I have experienced firsthand the benefits that scientists have been touting. Mindfulness improves your ability to bring awareness to any situation in your life. It is this extra awareness and attention that allows us to fully be immersed in the situation allowing us to make better decisions and experience life more fully. Here are just some of thebenefits that mindfulness can provide.
- Improves your focus- When you practice mindfulness you will improve your ability to focus on what is important. When you are fully aware of what you are doing you are able to direct your attention and focus to where you want. Mindfulness has shown to improve attention span and not become distracted. A study at Washington University showed that participants who meditated were better at multitasking and could focus better to get more tasks done. The meditators demonstrated they made less task switches when multitasking and could focus longer at one task. They also showed that they had better memory of the tasks they performed. You can check out the research here.
- Increases creativity-When you immerse yourself in a problem or task you are using all of your senses to come up with solutions. When you are more in a relaxed state, ideas will start to flow through your mind and you won’t have the inner chatter distracting you. Frequently we have an inner voice that distracts us and tells us this is not going to work or brings our attention away from the problem.
- Improve your athletic ability– When you are mindful you improve the mind body connection and are able to reach a state of total awareness. High performance athletes need to make reactive and quick decisions under high pressure situations. A lot of times athletes choke under pressure and miss an opportunity to win the game for their team. Mindfulness has shown to help people perform better under these stressful situations. It reduces the perceived effects of stress so you have better mental clarity and mental toughness during the game. Mindfulness helps you to reach a state of flow which means you are totally present and can perform at an optimal level without any distractions.
- Relives stress- Mindfulness is one of the best ways to reduce stress easily and safely. Mindfulness actually changes how we perceive and react to stress. Research on mindfulness has shown that frequent meditators produced less cortisol during stressful situations. The participants of the study also said they felt less stressed during high pressure situations.
- Improves your test taking ability- There have been studies done that show mindfulness improved test taking ability. This is due to the increase in focus and being totally present. A lot of times we answer a question wrong on a test because we miss interpret the question or we assume they are asking something else. How many times have you re read a question you got wrong and you realized that you did not answer what was being asked. It might seem like an oversight but it can be prevented if you become more mindful and are more aware of what the question is really trying to ask and not assuming. A study at the University of California Santa Barbra showed that students who practiced mindfulness increased their GRE scores and showed improvement in cognitive function and working memory.
- Lose weight- Have you ever heard of mindful eating? It is a practice where you eat your food slowly with intention. When you eat your food slowly with intention you will not only enjoy the taste of your food but you will also eat smaller portion sizes. Studies have shown that eating mindfully has resulted in a loss of weight for participants. I will be discussing mindful eating in more detail in upcoming posts.
- Improves your mood and outlook on life– Mindfulness helps you become more self aware. You will have a better sense of yourself and what your true purpose is. You do not let petty things bother you and effect how you feel. When you are more aware of the things around you your outlook on life is more positive. Instead of seeing the negative in the situation you are trained to see the opportunity and what positive thing can emerge from the situation.
- Reduces bad habits- We all have habits, some good some bad. Habits are important because it makes life easier and helps us accomplish what needs to get done without resistance. However, if we have a bad habit such as smoking or eating unhealthy we might need to be more mindful to reduce these mindless habits. Habits become automatic and we are not aware of what we are doing. Mindfulness helps us observe what we are doing so we can decide if we need to stop it. Awareness of a bad habit is the first step to lower it.
Let me know why you practice mindfulness and what techniques do you use. Share any benefits you experienced while practicing mindfulness.