The benefits of Mindfulness
The more you become aware of your thoughts, feelings, patterns and themes of your life, the more choice you have, the less judgement you have, and the more able you are to manage stress, anxiety and depression and enhance your wellbeing. Learning to observe what creates stress, rather than being immersed in the stress can bring a new way of being and so many benefits.
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and is now recognised by the NHS, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence and the Mental Health Foundation as a way of treating depression, anxiety, stress and chronic pain. Click here to see what the NHS says. As well as improving wellbeing, mindfulness can also make you more productive in the workplace, and you can also use mindfulness to help you reach your top potential in sports.
Mindfulness lets us be aware of what is happening so that we can avoid old ways of thinking and reacting. You become aware of more information both inside you and outside you. You learn to watch your internal and external experiences without being your experiences. In other words, mindfulness is about creating presence, and if you can create presence then that means you have choice in that moment. This enables you to break free of old ways of behaving and thinking and be more creative and open to new ways of thinking and responding.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” ~ Viktor E. Frankl
Mindfulness helps you recognise the gap in-between a situation/trigger and your behaviour or reaction. You then have the option of exploring this with curiosity and bringing about change and growth. We can learn to observe a great deal of our experience and once we bring about a sense of detachment with this observation, we learn that thoughts, emotions, or external situations are powerless.
Mindfulness is quite different to relaxing. You might find some of the experiences or practices relaxing and that is great. But mindfulness is more about being with what is there right now. If you are experiencing some discomfort in your body, whether that be through chronic pain or a feeling of loss, it might not be relaxing to just be with it. Mindfulness can be confronting and challenging. With practice, you might come to view your feelings and emotions as just physical sensations, or even signals of energy in the body. You might then even be able to watch these experiences with an open curiosity.
The exciting thing with mindfulness and meditation is that you can always keep going further and expanding. The sense of awareness you get is infinite. There is joy and freedom and connection in this journey. When you really know yourself, you become aware of your values, needs and true nature. You can then live a happy, fulfilling and meaningful life along with people who match your nature and your energies and who bring about the truest expression of who you are.
Mindfulness is like learning to swim. I could use words to tell you about it for hours. But you don't get to experience it without trying it.
Mindfulness has been found to reduce the effects of stress by giving you greater clarity and awareness and so can help to notice and manage stress. After practicing mindfulness for 8 weeks, people have reported to feel more happy and engaged with life, more energised, less anxious, have fewer physical symptoms of stress, and sleep better.
Research has shown that Mindfulness can:
- Reduce stress levels by 40% (Found a study by Oxford university)
- Reduce chronic pain and improve suffering from long-term health conditions
- Decrease perceived stress and tone down the stress response quicker
- Improve sleep
- Can improve multitasking, memory and concentration/focus
- Enhance creative thinking
- Increased activity in the area of the brain associated with positive emotion (the pre-frontal cortex)
- Reduce the risk of relapse for people who experience recurrent depression by more than 40%