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Mindfulness: 22 Amazing Health Benefits for Body and Brain

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African American woman meditating

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

Buddha

Mindfulness is a state of being that more and more people are turning to in order to live a healthier, happier life.

It is not a new concept, but it is one that more people are becoming interested in.

Being mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations enhances our ability to become aware of them.

When you are mindful, you focus on your thoughts and feelings as they happen, rather than letting them pass by without noticing. There are many benefits to mindfulness, both mental and physical.

In this blog post, we will explore the meaning of mindfulness and look at 22 important benefits that mindfulness can have on your life.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your overall wellbeing, mindfulness may be the answer!

“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.”

Buddha

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a meditative practice that helps people focus on the present moment.

It involves bringing your attention to the internal and external experiences you’re having, without judging them or trying to change them.

This means you will be less likely to dwell on the past or worry about the future, which can lead to a more fulfilling life.

Practicing mindfulness makes your brain more adept at focusing on the current moment.

As a result, you learn how to let go of negative thoughts and emotions and focus on what is happening in the present moment.

This can help you to become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings, as well as the thoughts and feelings of others.

“Wherever you are, be there totally.”

Eckhart Tolle

As a result, mindfulness can improve your relationships with family, friends and co-workers.

Mindfulness has been growing in popularity in recent years, especially among people who are looking for ways to reduce stress and improve their overall well-being.

One of the most important benefits of mindfulness is that it helps you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, which can give you greater control over them.

When you’re mindful, you can step back and observe your thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.

This can be helpful because it allows you to respond rather than react to situations that might normally upset or bother you.

Evidence suggests that mindfulness has been practiced throughout history by Hinduism and Buddhism, in yoga, and by other forms of non-religious meditation.

If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.

Amit Ray

Here are 22 important benefits of mindfulness

A wide variety of research and studies have revealed a range of benefits linked to mindfulness.

These benefits are seen in various areas of health, including the physical, mental, and emotional. Here are 22 specific benefits of mindfulness and how they affect your life.

Look past your thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of This Moment.

Rumi

1. A Covid World: Survive and Thrive

“Mindfulness is really important in times like this,” says Auguste H. Fortin VI, MD, MPH, a Yale Medicine internal medicine specialist.

Anne Dutton, MA, LCSW, director of the Yale Stress Center mindfulness education program says “the mind’s constant chatter can be stopped by mindfulness, which can be invaluable when people are worrying about everything from whether they wore their mask properly in the grocery store to how to help a loved one who is seriously ill.

Strong emotions like fear, sadness, and anger—that we are all feeling right now—are perpetuated by ruminative thinking… a mindfulness practice can help us connect with awareness and let things come and go without our attention getting stuck on it.” (www.yalemedicine.org/stories/mindfulness-covid).

According to the Department Of Psychiatry At University Of Michigan Medicine Department“During the current pandemic, there is so much uncertainty concerning the future, and many threats to our security (physical, social, emotional, and financial).

It is totally natural and normal to feel anxious, fearful, and frustrated.

You might also experience anger or disappointment towards our governmental institutions for not moving as fast and as efficiently as you had hoped, or toward people not being as careful as you would like them to be in terms of social distancing, and so forth.

Those are all normal and natural reactions to this abnormal situation.

Mindfulness can help us acknowledge this situation, without allowing us to be carried away with strong emotions; it can, in turn, help bring ourselves back to a centered calm.

Only then can we see more clearly what it is we have control over and what it is that we do not.

Mindfulness also shows us how best to proceed, with compassion towards oneself and others.”

2. Live in the present and experience joy.

“What would it be like if I could accept life – accept this moment – exactly as it is?”

Tara Brach

Think about the following scenario.

As you play with your child, you watch as he or she frolics, laughs, grows, and blossoms in front of your eyes, but you aren’t there.

You are physically present, but you are preoccupied with that promotion you didn’t get.

You feel let down and frustrated.

In your fantasy, you want the person they chose instead of you to make things a mess, and you will be happy.

Therefore, because your mind is in the past, obsessing over something that you are powerless over and cannot change, you are missing out on quality time with your children, special moments and relationships, moments you will never get back.

Furthermore, the stress and anxiety you caused yourself didn’t help your wellbeing either.

Without being in the moment, we miss out on treasured moments of joy that enrich our lives on a daily basis.

One of the greatest benefits of mindfulness and being present is the ability to be in the moment.

Don’t worry about the past, don’t worry about the future, live in the present, in the here and now.

Because that’s where your life is, and that’s the only thing that actually matters.

3. Improved health overall

“Nothing is worth more than this day. You cannot relive yesterday. Tomorrow is still beyond your reach.”

Susan Albers

Research has shown that mindfulness improves overall health and well-being.

In one study on mindfulness and health, it was shown that mindfulness practice contributed to better cardiovascular health by reducing smoking rates, increasing physical activity, and lowering body mass index.

Another study that examined the impact of mindfulness on health behaviors found that the practice of mindfulness increased or enhanced health-related behaviors, such as quitting smoking, being more physically active, and fastening seat belts.

In addition, research has shown that mindfulness is associated with lower blood pressure, especially when practitioners are highly skilled in nonreactivity and nonjudgment.

Another study on mindfulness and its impacts on psychological and physical health found that overweight and obese individuals used mindfulness to improve eating habits and behaviors, lose weight, and reduce depression and anxiety (Ackerman, 2017).

4. Relief from Stress

“Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”

Hermann Hesse

Mindfulness has been proven to reduce stress in numerous studies.

Compared with relaxation or self-affirmation controls, a study in 2016 found that mindfulness generated less avoidance and more approach coping in response to stress.

It has been demonstrated that mindfulness can facilitate an adaptive reaction to daily stressors and alleviate stress by affecting emotion regulation, which enhances mood and the ability to tackle stressful situations (Ackerman, 2017).

5. Become less depressed

“Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life.”

Buddha

It has been established for a long time that mindfulness can reduce depression symptoms.

Researchers Costa and Barnhofer found that a brief mindfulness training reduced depressive symptoms in study participants by increasing their ability to regulate their emotions.

According to another study, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy reduced stress, anxiety, and depressive episodes.

Further research indicates that mindfulness can help people with chronic depression, suicidal thoughts, or suicidal ideation.

Researchers have found that mindfulness reduces suicidal thoughts and eases depression symptoms in these individuals.

People who practice mindfulness have a better ability to cope with and regulate their emotions, which enables them to cope with and manage depression a lot better (Ackerman, 2017).

6. An increase in academic performance

“Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh

Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness on a consistent basis  can boost academic success among a variety of groups and in a variety of ways.

Researchers have found that elementary students who practice mindfulness achieve higher academic levels, demonstrate more prosocial behaviors, and are more able to regulate their emotions.

Mindfulness was more effective in decreasing anxiety and depression among teenagers in a mindfulness program pursuing a general education certificate.

Study participants from low socioeconomic backgrounds who took part in a mindfulness program showed reduced levels of stress, resulting in improved academic performance.

Researchers found that urban males who participated in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) showed less stress, less anxiety, and less negative coping, which helped them deal with academic stress and achieve academic success.

Participants in a mindfulness program for homeless middle school students reported greater levels of well-being, greater use of mindfulness in school, and better academic performance and overall well-being.

According to another study conducted on ADHD children, practicing mindfulness decreases aggression and conduct problems, making it easier to focus on academic activities (Ackerman, 2017).

7. Improved ability to handle bullying

“Nothing is worth more than this day. You cannot relive yesterday. Tomorrow is still beyond your reach.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Children and young people can also deal with bullying through mindfulness.

According to a study conducted in China in 2017, mindfulness can protect children against the depressive symptoms associated with being bullied.

By helping kids become more aware of perspectives that are different from their own and develop more appropriate and constructive reactions when bullied, Sandra Mccloy showed how mindfulness can be used as a coping tool for bullying in her dissertation from 2005.

Furthermore, mindfulness can be beneficial to improve empathy and social/emotional learning, which would make bullies less likely to engage in bullying behaviors (Ackerman, 2017).

8. A reduction in blood pressure

“What would it be like if I could accept life – accept this moment – exactly as it is?”

Tara Brach

Mindfulness can reduce high blood pressure, according to a new study.

A study published in the journal PLOS One found that participants who participated in the Mindfulness-Based Blood Pressure Reduction Program, which was designed to assess the acceptability, feasibility, and effects of mindfulness on hypothesized proximal self-regulation mechanisms, experienced dramatic declines in blood pressure levels that were still evident at 1 year’s follow-up.

Following the 1-year mark, the participants’ blood pressure was still lower than their baseline, and participants who had trouble following healthy lifestyle recommendations in the past were still following them (Berman, 2019).

9. Improve your resilience

“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Being resilient means that one can recover quickly from adversity.

There is evidence that mindfulness enhances resilience and helps one understand and regulate their emotions.

The study found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy improved social-emotional resiliency even while reducing problem behaviors, attention problems, and anxiety.

One study examined mindfulness and resilience among children participating in mental health systems or welfare systems.

Researchers found that mindfulness enhanced emotional regulation, mood, empathy, confidence, self-esteem, coping, and social skills.

In addition, their capability of paying attention and concentrating was improved (Ackerman, 2017).

10. Increased productivity

“The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.”

Tara Brach

Mindfulness and job performance have been the subject of growing research, with a growing body of evidence supporting the positive effects mindfulness can have on workplace productivity.

In a study by Dane & Brummel, mindfulness was found to enhance job performance in the service industry, even when workers’ engagement levels were controlled.

Similarly, a study conducted in 2014 found that office employees who participated in an 8-week mindfulness program reported higher job satisfaction and lower stress levels.

Their employers were also more satisfied with their performance.

Among those who had mindfulness training, Gallant found they had stronger inhibition abilities, which, in turn, led to improved executive functioning.

Similarly, a study in 2017 showed that mindfulness at work can increase the number of contracted hours employees work (Ackerman, 2017).

11. Reduced turnover and burnout

“How we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the character of our experience, and therefore, the quality of our lives.”

Sam Harris

A great deal of research has been conducted to support the idea that mindfulness can help prevent employee burnout and turnover.

Dane and Brummel investigated the relationship between mindfulness and turnover intention in 2014.

Findings showed that employees who were more mindful were less likely to leave their job for any reason.

Using mindfulness-based stress reduction, Goodman and Schorling (2012) observed a decrease in work-related burnout and an improvement in the mental health of the healthcare professionals studied.

Researchers from Australia have also established a link between mindfulness and burnout by conducting research amongst psychologists.

The studies cited above and others like them, including a 2015 study by Schultz and colleagues, show that mindfulness can improve well-being within the workplace and reduce employee burnout across a variety of jobs and careers (Ackerman, 2017).

12. An improved immune system

“Respond; don’t react. Listen; don’t talk. Think; don’t assume.”

Raji Lukkoor

When practiced regularly, mindfulness can strengthen the immune system.

Researchers believe this is because mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety.

Stress is associated with decreased immune function, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and inflammation, among other negative health outcomes.

By decreasing stress and anxiety, mindfulness boosts immunity by preventing health problems that negatively affect immunity.

Our bodies become better at warding off pathogens and diseases as a result (Calabrese, 2020).

13. Reduced reactivity

“Mindfulness is deliberately paying full attention to what is happening around you– in your body, heart, and mind. Mindfulness is awareness without criticism or judgment.”

Jan Chozen Bays

Studies have shown that mindfulness therapies increase gray matter density in areas of the brain linked to emotional regulation, among other things.

In addition, mindfulness helps shrink the amygdala, which controls flight or fight responses in the brain.

As a result of these two processes, anxiety is reduced, resulting in a more calm response and processing of information.

Additionally, mindfulness leads to less negative or harmful emotions patterns and better mental resilience (Mindfulness.com, 2019).

14. Stronger relationships

“Cultivating a generous spirit starts with mindfulness. Mindfulness, simply stated, means paying attention to what is happening; it’s about what is really going on.”

Nell Newman

A natural benefit of mindfulness is the enhancement of interpersonal relationships, as it is linked to reduced stress, anxiety, and enhanced awareness.

Our ability to be present and calm when our feelings, needs, and wants are expressed is key to forming meaningful connections with others.

Due to a decreased likelihood of emotional reactivity, we can spend quality time, listen actively, and enjoy positive relationships.

This is supported by the fact that mindfulness is positively correlated to more fulfilling romantic relationships (Mindfulness.com, 2019).

15. Improved creativity

“Being mindful means that we suspend judgment for a time, set aside our immediate goals for the future, and take in the present moment as it is rather than as we would like it to be.”

Mark Williams

Mindfulness practice has also been linked to increased levels of creativity.

Mindfulness sessions have been shown to improve focus, which can lead to an increase in creativity in individuals and in groups.

Furthermore, mindfulness might enhance the ability to solve problems and analyze because it increases brain capacity, thereby facilitating additional cognitive processing in the rest of the brain (Sutton, 2020).

16. A better night’s sleep

“Meditation goes in. Prayer goes out. But both aim for the same place of union between you and the Divine.”

Lisa Jones

Various studies have shown that mindfulness helps improve sleep quality and length.

The reason for this is because mindfulness promotes feelings of calm, stress release, and sleep by relaxing the nervous system.

Furthermore, mindfulness may be an effective alternative treatment for chronic insomnia, which means medication may not be necessary in some cases (Mindfulness.com, 2019).

17. Effective and efficient recovery

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”

Amit Ray

Recovery from injury and illness can also be improved by practicing mindfulness.

In a study looking at MSBR in Chinese breast cancer survivors, researchers found evidence that mindfulness contributed to post-traumatic growth, while also reducing stress and anxiety among the participants.

Similarly, researchers found that practicing mindfulness could decrease stress and rumination and increase self-kindness in young breast cancer survivors.

Further research suggests that mindfulness and practices such as yoga and meditation can help breast cancer survivors cope with anxiety, enhance their vigor, and heal from post-traumatic stress (Ackerman, 2017).

18. A lower risk of alcoholism

“The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are moments when we touch one another.”

Jack Kornfield

Alcoholism can be curbed through the use of mindfulness.

People who practice mindfulness are more likely to resolve their stress and anxiety without turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism, especially those in the college-aged population.

Mindfulness reduces the tendency to use alcohol as a coping mechanism among those in this group.

Study findings showed that college students who practice mindfulness and are knowledgeable about awareness and non-judgment are much less likely to engage in problematic drinking.

Moreover, it’s been shown that mindfulness increases vitality and self-control, which is another factor that helps individuals avoid drinking harmfully (Ackerman, 2017).

19. The ability to remember things better

“Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.”

Nicole Reed

Mindfulness has also been proven to enhance memory and recall.

A mindfulness session lasting only three minutes can result in immediate improvements in memory performance, according to Lloyd, Szani, Rubenstein, Colgary, & Pereira-Pasarin.

A similar session could also reduce the likelihood of false information being recalled (Sutton, 2020).

20. Increased life expectancy

“Worrying is stupid, it’s like walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain.”

Unknown

It has been found that mindfulness reduces stress, and stress has been linked to reduced immunity and aging, both of which can lead to shorter lifespans.

The reason for this is that stress accelerates telomere breakdown and cell death.

Keeping telomeres healthy for a longer period of time is possible because mindfulness helps us deal with stress better.

It has been shown that the delay in cell breakdown affects mental and physical aging as well (Mindfulness.com, 2019).

21. Less influenced by bias

“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Practicing mindfulness helps one become more objective and less judgmental.

In one study in the discipline of psychology, mindfulness was shown to decrease racial and age bias in participants.

According to this study, mindfulness was capable of transforming implicit biases derived from older views and automatic associations from the past (Mindfulness.com, 2019).

22. A greater sense of self-kindness

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

Buddha
Girl meditating

There is evidence to support the theory that mindfulness quiets the inside critic we all possess.

People who practice mindfulness learn healthy and more loving ways of dealing with stress and negative feelings.

As a result, we become less critical of ourselves, and we become more motivated, improve our relationships, and are healthier.

Furthermore, there is a decrease in anxiety and depression, and a greater sense of overall life satisfaction (Mindfulness.com, 2019).

Mindfulness And Happiness

The practice of mindfulness appears to be connected with a feeling of happiness.

Mindfulness plays a significant role in how we perceive happiness according to several studies.

Meditation alters the way we perceive the events around us and helps us to look at them from an optimistic and hopeful point of view.

As a result, we feel more happy.

People diagnosed with low mood, anxiety, or depression have experienced such results.

Patients with diabetes who participated in mindfulness training showed improved levels of happiness and better control of their blood glucose levels, according to a 2020 study.

The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

The results of a study published in 2014 showed that mindfulness interventions can improve mood even when they are technological.

In an intervention study using a smartphone app, results showed drastic improvements in wellbeing and happiness (Sutton, 2020).

The largest study of human happiness was conducted by Harvard researchers Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert.

As their study found, we achieve happiness through being present in the moment, which is facilitated by mindfulness because mindfulness leads to higher levels of awareness.

In addition, the study discovered that unhappiness is present when the mind wanders.

According to their research, the average person’s mind wanders 47% of the time, causing them to report feeling unhappiness.

The results showed that mindfulness increases happiness and adds value.

Being mindful helps us become more present and less distracted. Being more focused makes us feel happier and more fulfilled (Mindfulness.com, 2019).

Additionally, a Harvard study examined how mindfulness can lead to increased attentiveness and focus in the brain.

In this study, participants took part in a mindfulness program that lasted eight weeks.

The study reported that “brain cells use particular frequencies, or waves, to regulate the flow of information in much the same way that radio stations broadcast at specific frequencies.

One frequency, the alpha rhythm, is particularly active in the cells that process touch, sight and sound in the brain’s outermost layer, called the cortex, where it helps to suppress irrelevant or distracting sensations and regulate the flow of sensory information between brain regions.”

Those who completed the program showed a faster and more pronounced adaptation to the alpha rhythm than those who didn’t.

Based on this study, it was determined that mindfulness could be used to train the mind to be more attentive (Cho, 2016).

“The basic root of happiness lies in our minds; outer circumstances are nothing more than adverse or favorable.”

Matthieu

Final Thoughts

The practice of mindfulness can be an incredible asset when done consistently and intentionally.

When you practice becoming more aware of the present moment while also learning to let go of judgement, you will reap a number of benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Mindfulness practice is associated with improvements in performance, resilience, overall health, reduced stress, and improved relationships.

Studies have shown that even a session as brief as three minutes can improve mental and emotional health almost immediately.

As a result, incorporating mindfulness into your daily life can be a significant benefit for both you and others.

We should consider mindfulness as a practice with the potential to change our lives.

“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.”

Buddha

References

23 amazing health benefits of mindfulness for body and brain. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-mindfulness/ Berman, R. (2019).

Mindfulness training may lower blood pressure. Medical and health information. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327310 Calabrese, L. (2020, August 13).

How mindfulness training can boost your immune system. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-mindfulness-training-can-help-you-achieve-immunologic-health/ Cho, J. (2016, July 14).

6 scientifically proven benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeenacho/2016/07/14/10-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-mindfulness-and-meditation/#7de2808463ce Firestone, L. (2013, March 6). Benefits of mindfulness. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201303/benefits-mindfulness Harvard Health Publishing. (2020).

Benefits of mindfulness. https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm Mindfulness.com. (2019, May 21). 11 proven benefits of mindfulness — Mindfulness.com. https://blog.mindfulness.com/meditation/benefits-of-mindfulness Surban, G. (2020, May 7).

How to practice mindfulness (2020 complete guide to mindfulness). Develop Good Habits. https://www.developgoodhabits.com/how-to-practice-mindfulness/#15_Mindfulness_reduces_feelings_of_loneliness

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