Mindfulness: An Introduction

Learn what is mindfulness, how to practice living mindfully, and the many benefits of practicing mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in the present moment and doing it intentionally and with non-judgment. It also refers to the intentional acts of regulating your attention through the observation of thoughts, emotions, and body positions.

Thanks to research and media coverage, mindfulness is no longer a technique hidden in ancient spiritual texts and practiced in remote monasteries. Today, millions of people around the world practice it to boost their emotional well-being.

Mindfulness is now being taught in educational institutes, workplaces, hospitals, gyms, and homes all over the world. You can easily explore for yourself the unbelievable benefits of living mindfully.


How Mindfulness Moved From East to West

The biggest influence on bringing mindfulness from the East to the West was Jon Kabat-Zinn. He founded the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Oasis Institute for Mindfulness-Based Professional Education and Training. This is where he developed his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, an eight-week program aimed at reducing stress and anxiety.

Kabat-Zinn learned about mindfulness from several Buddhist teachers, including Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk. This gave him an Eastern foundation in mindfulness that he integrated with Western science to develop the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Here are some of the proven ways that mindfulness can benefit you:

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Mindfulness can help reduce stress, anxiety, and negative emotions by shrinking your brain’s fight center, the amygdala. This part of the brain is associated with fear and involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress and anxiety.

Mindfulness can help reduce depressive symptoms. Different studies show that mindfulness is as effective as antidepressants.

Mindfulness can help reduce insomnia by helping you deal with the common causes of insomnia - worrying, stress, and thinking too much.

Mindfulness can increase your sense of wellbeing by reducing lethargy and increases both mental and physical energy levels.

Mindfulness can improve your emotional and social intelligence and help you develop empathy and compassion. You can practice mindfulness to improve your relationships.

Mindfulness can improve your physical health by boosting your immunity. Mindfulness also has beneficial effects on many serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

Mindfulness can reduce compulsive and addictive tendencies and works better than any diet for effective weight loss.

Mindfulness Exercises

There are different ways to practice mindfulness. Some examples include

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Live in the moment

Try to intentionally bring accepting and discerning attention to everything you do in your daily life. In other words, find joy in simple pleasures. Besides, living in the moment helps you think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is always filled with confusion and uncontrolled emotions. By calming your mind you can reduce confusion, get clarity while thinking, and calm your emotions.

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Pay attention

It's really hard to slow down and notice things while living a busy life. But it’s important for you to take out some time from your busy schedule to experience your environment with all of your senses i.e. touch, sound, sight, smell, and taste. For example, whenever you eat your favorite food, take the time to smell, taste, and truly enjoy every bite of it.

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Focus on your breathing

Whenever you have negative thoughts, sit down, take a deep breath, and close your eyes. Just focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. Sitting and breathing for even a minute can help you control your negative thoughts. You don’t have to do it perfectly because the idea is to give your mind a rest.