Mindfulness holds its benefits in supporting us to be present in our thoughts, and in the moment. It’s a process of learning how to access this moment of presence. Mindfulness means paying attention “on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4). In other words, to be mindful is to pay close attention to your present moment. I’t’s a practice, and an attitude that anybody can learn quickly and it can change your relationship to the world around you.
What Are The Benefits Of Practicing Mindfulness?
Extensive scientific evidence shows the benefits of everyday mindfulness to one’s overall health. This can be the health of your home environment, at school and in the workplace. The benefits of everyday mindfulness, include improved attention, emotional regulation , greater compassion, reduced overall stress and improvement in applying strategies learned, and reduction in anxiety.
Much of the scientific research on meditation shows similar results. This includes, but not limited to the activation of the prefrontal cortex. When you activate the prefrontal cortex, you’re supporting the brain in regulating itself. This further helps executive cognitive function. When you’re mindful you can reduce stress, you can shift your thoughts to happier ones, and you can focus better. By simply learning to observe your mind, you can take control over how you want to feel instead of letting your obsessing thoughts run the show. Some schools are using this research to promote mindfulness in schools.
Mindfulness Helps Build Momentum
Paying attention to your thoughts and being present exposes you to less anxiety and pain. One of the key benefits to mindfulness in everyday life is it can help you gain momentum. There’s a common misconception that slowing down your thoughts, or taking a moment to pause, will cause them to lose momentum. The research on the benefits of everyday mindfulness suggests the opposite is true. In fact, mantra-style meditation is one such technique that is proven to bring you right into the moment. Learning to meditate is effortless, and practicing the skill doesn’t take that long to do either. It only takes 20-minutes and you’ve slowed down enough to experience the benefits in your body and mind. In fact, Florence R. Gaia, RN, M.Ed., encourages you to do your meditation in the back seat of your car!
What If I Don’t Have Time To Practice Mindfulness?
You don’t actually need extra time to engage in mindfulness. It becomes a part of your day. The first thing to learn when being present is you become acutely aware of the thinking you’re doing. It can happen while driving in your car or while cooking, and brushing your teeth. There’s an apparent understanding of one self – another great benefit of everyday mindfulness.
Be aware that if you have different expectations of your ‘mindfulness practice’ results, you may move away from consistently practicing it. It’s important to free yourself from the constraints of your mind, even for a few moments every day. This helps you to reap the valuable stress-management benefits you can feel. If you struggle with fitting this into your routine, consider this podcast episode on deconstructing routines.
Coaching To Build Everyday Happiness
I discussed this in the Facebook Live, Strategy Talk With Coaching Lynn one day. Coaching clients through the mindfulness process teaches them to become more aware so they can learn to take responsibility for their personal well-being. By learning some simple strategies, over time people come to make sense of the mind-chatter, and become more present in the world. I like to demystify how easy it is. Living in the present can even sharpen your brain to getting the answers you need in a moment’s notice.
Easy Strategies For Practicing Mindfulness
Journaling is a great way to stay open to what’s happening within the mind. Creating an awakening by journaling is contemplation. In this moment, there’s a purpose to your presence and you’re being mindful.
Aside from journaling, you can add a few reminders for yourself in your daytime, to prompt you at certain times. Ultimately, the end result is to train yourself to be more aware of the thoughts that are passing through your mind. If your thoughts veer towards past regrets, hopes and fears, you will have enough self-awareness to shift them to what you want to be thinking about instead. This way, you can manage your emotions, your thoughts and your behaviours. This self-empowerment enables you to achieve your goals and grow. That’s because you have more confidence, and you can recognize your successes.
Learning these skills can have profound effects on your family, your friendships, and your workplace. This provides you the vehicle to your mind and your thoughts – a profound benefit to mindfulness. That awareness is the catalyst you need to develop better self-awareness. And that cycle can further enhance your self-confidence and emotional intelligence – and in the end, crushing the negative effects of stress.
Personal growth and learning are one of the most basic universal human needs. Mindfulness, and going inward, can help you feel a level personal importance. If you think about it, every musician has to fine tune their instrument right? The same rule applies to us, and our own “instruments” – our Minds – and learning how to pay attention of our thoughts, and our bodies. Once you can learn some basic principles, mindfulness training can reduce your stress as well as reversing the negative effects on the body and certain parts of the brain.
In the classroom, more and more schools are teaching children about the brain. When you teach them about the brain, they can learn to self-regulate. By talking about the function of the brain cells, or the executor of the brain – the pre-frontal cortex – you’re involving children in their basic physical functions. Memory is impacted by stress, as is our emotional regulation.
The truth is, once you have stress in the body, you release adrenaline and norepinephrine which pinches off the pre-frontal cortex from working effectively. Mindfulness helps the PFC to be in a state of calm. Training kids and employees, about the basic neural circuits involved in emotional regulation, helps them manage an upcoming stressor a bit better. The same rule applies at home, when parents can become involved in understanding the brain’s function. This allows the parent to reason with their kids.
Mindfulness Reduces Stress
As I said, when you have stress in the body, you release adrenaline and norepinephrine which pinches off the PFC from working effectively. This stress is caused by the secretion of cortisol, a stress hormone released by your adrenal glands. When your adrenal glands are working hard, the rest of your body – including your heart – is working hard too.
By systematically bringing more attention inward, to your awareness, you generally develop more calm and compassion for yourself. By bringing down the chatter of our minds, you can start to see more clearly. Often times, when we lack clarity of a particular issue, we feel stressed and that lack of knowing triggers more chaos. Compassion is a gentle emotion that tends to raise our vibrations, and compassion allows us to trust more in ourselves – one amazing benefit of mindfulness!!!
That stress response can negatively influence learning and behaviour, particularly in children/adolescents who still have growing brains and need to sustain attention for longer periods of time at school.Children and adolescents need effective self-regulation tools. When feelings are not managed very well, our thinking and concentration is impaired.
Having a regular mindfulness practice can also help you be more focused and more compassionate with yourself. Mindfulness can calm the non-stop mind-chatter and agitation that we experience. Our attention span is not separate from our emotions ,so having a thought can arouse a negative emotional state. Research suggests that our emotional state significantly affects the quality of our attention. Knowing this can be of great benefit to parents raising young children – the future generation. If parents can learn mindful awareness first, and bring the strategies into the home, they’re giving their entire family a range of practices to empower them inwardly and outwardly.
In essence, learning to apply mindfulness strategies, like baking or cooking, helps us recognize our personal experiences, at that very moment. You’re learning to be in the moment with your experiences. This in turn helps us develop self-compassion, enabling everyone to make wiser choices to respond more appropriately to difficult situations. You learn not to react so strongly or react in such aggressive or self-destructive ways…towards yourself or your children.
This takes time and a system, however.
And that’s what I aim to do in The Pro-Mind Experience, allowing you to learn about your emotions and the difference between your emotions and how you experience them, to avoid the negative impact (drugs, alcohol abuse, depression, anxiety). When Satori launched ProMind our vision was simple: Get health practitioners to think about their mental health more proactively. In early 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Satori launched The ProMind Experience to support hospitals in raising awareness of the benefits of workplace wellness and personal development. The ProMind Experience broadened its focus to encompass physical, cognitive, spiritual and behavioural health, and support the full range of wellbeing needs of their employees. If one can recognize that their thoughts are just thoughts – that they’re innocent travelers passing through – then they can make a choice on whether to engage in the experience of that thought or not. This can be empowering for virtually everyone.
Self-awareness = self-regulation!