Do mindfulness practices really help?

Mental Health

Do mindfulness practices really help? Or is it just a myth? Take 8 minutes to know more about the real benefits of mindfulness practices and how it has helped millions of people around the world!

Mindfulness helps a person focus on the present moment at hand, attaining awareness of their thoughts, feelings, surroundings and bodily sensations while also acknowledging and accepting them in a non-judgemental manner. It is a largely obscure conception of the Buddhists, which has been gaining an enormous surge in popularity in recent times. The benefits of mindfulness have not just made their way into the psychotherapy literature, but also the popular media. 

Advocates of mindfulness believe that it has several benefits for its practitioner, such as self-control, mental calmness and composure, objectivity, mental clarity, enhanced emotional intelligence, improved concentration, acceptance and compassion, among many more. 

Several customs and traditions, along with various practices such as yoga, qigong, and tai chi, all help cultivate and sharpen our innate qualities to practice mindfulness. It is the numerous benefits of this self-regulative technique, which help train our focus, attention and awareness to bring our mental processes under even more voluntary control, fostering a greater sense of well-being, which makes it not just an ancient practice, but a universal and popular exercise of today’s times. 

Now, let us look at some of the benefits of mindfulness in greater detail:

It helps in Stress Reduction: 

Practising mindfulness has been scientifically proven to help reduce stress by getting to the root of the problem and putting a stop to what is causing us to feel distressed. It is in our human tendency to feel scared in stressful situations. This often leads us to become a little more hyper-vigilant, as opposed to usual. We become inclined to see potential disasters everywhere. In such a situation, practising mindfulness becomes important. By doing so, we are able to become aware of the constant sense of urgency and unease in our minds and refocus our attention on the matter at hand, instead of intensifying such disturbing feelings. Mindfulness helps us slow down, focus on the more unproblematic things and allows us to clear our minds before we re-evaluate the stressful situation, in order to find solutions to it. It prevents us from getting overwhelmed or intimidated by the same.    

Improved Physical and Mental Health:

Being mindful helps a person to truly savour the delights in one’s life, engaging in daily activities and building a higher threshold to deal with unpleasant and distressing circumstances. It helps a person not get too tied up with worries of the past or the future, but to be truly present in the moment, enjoy their time, and form deep and meaningful connections with others. It leads us to feel happier and more fulfilled in life, by improving a person’s ability to notice, become aware of and appreciate their pleasurable experiences. This is because real happiness doesn’t stem from worldly possessions or materialistic temporalities. It births from the quality of one’s experiences. So, by allowing oneself to be completely present and aware of the joy and goodness of our experiences, we can magnify their positive impacts on us. 

It has been scientifically discovered that practising mindfulness helps improve the physical health of a person, in numerous ways. It can help lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, help with gastrointestinal difficulties and also prevent the onset of heart diseases, to a certain extent, by keeping its contributing factors such as high levels of stress in check

Psychotherapists have, in recent years, started considering mindfulness as an important practice in the treatment of a number of psychological problems such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, relationship conflicts and obsessive-compulsive disorders. 

Improves Focus:

Mindfulness has been examined to show how it affects the ability of a person to focus on a particular stimulus and suppress any form of distracting information. By practising mindfulness, concentration and focus can be cultivated by repeatedly focusing, and bringing back our focus, to a chosen stimulus. Over a period of time, as the practitioner gains maturity and a good handle on the practice, their attention begins to go where they want it to be, without being drawn by random impulses that can distract them from the matter at hand. After all, the main key to mindfulness is to become more alert and focused. 

Impact on Pain:

There are a few findings that suggest that practising mindfulness can have a positive impact on the psychological experience and our perception of pain. The Journal of the American Medical Association, in 2014, found some evidence on the effectiveness of practising mindfulness to experience relief or at least comparatively less pain. Recent studies have also found connections between mindfulness and the intensity at which an individual experiences pain. 

Resilience in the face of life challenges: 

Sometimes it is the gnawing awareness of a terrible event that proves to be crippling and gets us stuck in a difficult place to move out of. Focusing on a neutral stimulus at such a time of distress can help us cope better. So by practising mindfulness, we allow ourselves to focus on much more than a distressing stimulus. The neutrality can help give us a break from our sufferings or unease, during which we can calm down and collect ourselves, before courageously facing the stressors. 

Improves Relationships:

Emotions are very powerful. It is the emotions of a person that helps them form deep and meaningful relations in the first place. However, sometimes these emotions can become a little too overwhelming. They can go out of hand, driving us to sometimes say and do things that we may regret when we are much more at ease, calm and collected. Mindfulness helps us prevent exactly this. It teaches us to become more aware of our feelings. We also learn how and when to take a step back and choose to respond with clarity and understanding. It helps us neutral down intense emotions such as fear of abandonment, insecurity, jealousy, rage, etc. So instead of overreacting, or running away from the matter at hand, through mindfulness we can help become more aware of our true emotions, understand them well, and stay calm and collected as we deal with our daily lives. 

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