Mental Health

What is Mindfulness and its benefits

4 min read
Shikha Sundriyal

Take a pause and look around you, do you see work piling up or what to cook for dinner or your kids squabbling? Or do you see piling dishes and an even bigger pile of unpaid bills?

Chances are that you are in the middle of more than one of these right now.

Let’s face it – we are constantly in the middle of utter chaos.

Even resting feels like a task with “I should be working” guilt lingering on!

There are always multiple things going on simultaneously, most of which we have no control over.

24X7 we are bombarded with insurmountable information and the tasks never seem to end.

Work, home, family, health, mental load…

The result?

If this feels familiar then let me introduce you to the concept of Mindfulness.

Mindfulness offers the power to achieve better control of emotions amidst chaos. It is the practice of intentionally bringing our attention to the present moment and accepting it without judgement or prejudices.

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different…”

Ellen Langer (Psychologist and Professor at Harvard University)

By cultivating awareness of our thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they arise, we develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Benefits of Mindfulness in Daily Life:

  • Mindfulness enhances focus and concentration, allowing us to be fully present and engaged in our daily tasks.
  • By embracing mindfulness, we develop a greater sense of gratitude and appreciation for the simple joys of life.
  • It enables us to respond to challenging situations with greater clarity and composure, enhancing our problem-solving abilities and decision-making skills while accepting what is out of our control.
  • Mindfulness practice fosters stronger relationships, as we become more attuned to others, listening with empathy and compassion.

“It is in our nature to have a constantly changing experience of life. Mindfulness offers a way of meeting the inevitable difficulties and disappointments with kindness, curiosity, and acceptance.”

Mark Williams (Professor of Clinical Psychology and co-developer of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness Helps in Combating Stress:

  • Scientific studies have consistently demonstrated the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions in reducing stress levels and promoting resilience.
  • Mindfulness activates the body’s relaxation response, reducing the production of stress hormones and calming the nervous system.
  • Regular practice helps us develop a greater sense of self-awareness, enabling us to recognize and respond to stress triggers in a healthier manner.

Historical Roots of Mindfulness:

  • The Bhagavad Gita emphasizes the importance of mindfulness, stating, “When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a lamp in a windless place.
  • Mindfulness finds its roots in ancient wisdom traditions, such as Buddhism and contemplative practices

In recent years, mindfulness has gained widespread popularity and has been embraced by schools, colleges, universities, corporations, and even governments.

Numerous mindfulness-based programs, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), have been developed and successfully implemented in various settings.

“Mindsight (or mindfulness) is a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds. It helps us to be aware of our mental processes without being swept away by them, enables us to get ourselves off the autopilot of ingrained behaviors and habitual responses.”

Daniel J. Siegel (Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and bestselling author)

Yoga and Mindfulness: (Click here to learn Mindfulness)

Research studies have consistently shown that yoga is an effective practice for developing mindfulness.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that participants who engaged in regular meditation practice showed significant improvements in mindfulness and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Meditation practices within yoga, such as focused breathing or body scan meditation, help cultivate a heightened sense of awareness and presence.

Pranayama is a powerful tool to develop mindfulness.

Research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine demonstrated that pranayama practices, such as deep diaphragmatic breathing and alternate nostril breathing, were associated with reduced stress levels and increased feelings of calmness and relaxation. These techniques help regulate the breath, calm the mind, and enhance focus on the present moment.

The physical capacity of asana play a crucial role in becoming mindful. Asana require concentration, balance, and body awareness, leading practitioners to engage fully in the present moment.

A study published in the International Journal of Yoga revealed that individuals who practiced yoga asana regularly experienced improved self-awareness, emotional regulation, and overall well-being.

Incorporating consistent Yoga practice into daily life nurtures a stronger connection to the present moment.

Mindfulness is being actively incorporated at various organizations like Google, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Oxford, University of California, Berkeley, etc.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): Combining elements of cognitive therapy with mindfulness, MBCT is an evidence-based program used to prevent relapse in individuals with depression. It has been implemented in numerous mental health institutions.

Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale, is primarily derived from the earlier work of Teasdale, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Phillip Barnard

These resources, institutions, and initiatives reflect the widespread adoption of mindfulness across various sectors, demonstrating its relevance and effectiveness in promoting well-being, reducing stress, and enhancing overall quality of life.

Yogas chitta vritti nirodha (योगश्चित्त वृत्ति निरोध:)
yoga is the stilling or controlling of the modifications or fluctuations of the mind.”

– Verse 1.2, Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

Shikha Sundriyal

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