The Benefits of Mindfulness
‘Here and now’ – The practice of Mindfulness enables us to interact with life and those around us in a more responsive, skilful and relaxed manner. We feel more content, joyful and happier and our experiences of the pleasurable things in life are deepened and enriched. Less of our time is spent in “automatic pilot” and more of our time in the “here and now”.
‘Respond as opposed to react’ – The results of paying attention to the “here and now” can be significant and even profound. We notice some space around our thoughts and emotions and they no longer seem all-consuming. This new and greater perspective gives us the potential to consciously and with awareness respond to our thoughts and emotions as opposed to simply reacting, and to reflect on whether they are helpful or true. Recognising and coming to terms with our mind can be a joy.
‘Habits’ – We can see more clearly where turning to face life’s challenges may be appropriate, and where habitual patterns of turning away and non-engagement may not be. When we become comfortable with this process, it gives us the opportunity to dissolve the barriers that are blocking us which gives us the opportunity to open up to more joyful experiences too.
‘Healthy acceptance’ – Greater equanimity can arise as a response of this process; events that we find challenging and difficult don’t seem quite so significant. We gain a greater acceptance of our current situation, which can give us the inner tools to both change that which is necessary and learn to be content with what we can’t or don’t wish to change.
‘Self-kindness’ – The self-Compassion and kindness inherent in giving ourselves the time to undertake a daily Mindfulness practice can be a catalyst for greater kindness and Compassion in itself and implies a commitment to our own joy, happiness and well-being.
‘Letting go’ – Mindfulness gives us the ability to let go – let go of stress and anxiety, of the constancy of thinking, of reliving the past or pre-living the future. The conditions that cause the stress and anxiety may well still exist, but we can relate to them in a more peaceful, harmonious and relaxed way which decreases our unhappiness and discontent.
These benefits relate to the effects of Mindfulness on attitudes and habits. There have been numerous research studies highlighting the benefits of regular Mindfulness practice, as follows:
Reduced stress and anxiety
Greater calmness and clarity
More effective concentration
Increased resilience in difficult situations
Improved listening skills
Improved ability to quieten the chattering mind
Increased ability for lateral thinking and creative solutions to problems
Greater self-awareness and awareness of others
Reduced heart rate
Lower blood pressure
Better breathing patterns
Strengthening of immune system
Improved confidence and self-esteem
Ability to be kinder to oneself and others
Increased empathy and Compassion
Heightened awareness of the body leading to recognition and release of pain
We are human beings not human doings.