Defining Mindfulness and it’s benefits.

Mindfulness is increasingly being recognised as being very effective to help people manage anxiety and depression. Put very simply, it is the practise of focusing our attention on being in the here and now without wishing it were different. It is enjoying the present when things are good and not holding onto it when it changes and being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way.  Read More …. 

Although it has influences in Buddhist psychology, there are references to mindfulness in all religions.  It is applied to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and historically it is said to have been taught by the Buddha over 2500 years ago. Classical Buddhism teaches mindfulness in four domains:

  • Mindfulness of body sensations
  • Mindfulness of feeling tone
  • Mindfulness of mind states
  • Mindfulness of the contents of mind

Benefits of Mindfulness –

  • It boosts immune system – Increasing body’s ability to fight off diseases
  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety
  • Reduces symptoms of depression
  • Reduces pain
  • Increase in the density of the grey matter in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection
  • Reductions in grey-matter density in the amygdala—which plays an important role in stress and anxiety
  • Increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress.
  • Improves attention, helps focus, negate distractions and improves memory and attention skills.
  • Increase in cognitive functioning, especially memory and learning and helps slow down Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Fosters self-compassion and altruism
  • Overcomes depression by preventing excessive rumination
  • Overcome addictions and other bad habits. By a technique called ‘urge surfing’.
  • Eases fears and anxieties related to death

Being Mindful can be done by maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

For example, you could follow these 4 steps to being mindful –

  1. Be oriented – Consciously and deliberately be aware of the time, your surroundings and what’s going on around you.
  2. Use your senses – any or all of them – Consciously here, see, smell, touch and taste. Sense where you are. Seeing, feeling and touching are the easiest senses to direct your attention to the here and now.
  3. Remain in the here and now – Try not to allow yourself to drift and if you do, try to become aware of this and escort your thoughts back to the here and now.
  4. If you can’t see it, try not to think it – Ensure that all that you have in your mind is what is happening in the present moment.

You may want to practise the exercise above or you could learn to meditate or look up ‘Mindfulness Exercises’. In future posts, there will be other mindfulness techniques you may want to experiment with.

As always, feel free to comment on this post or you can contact me with any questions, suggestions or enquiries.

Regards

Duncan.

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