5 facts to know about mindfulness.
Curious about mindfulness? Let’s talk about some of the basics of Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the current moment, without judgment. It involves paying attention to one’s thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in a non-judgmental and accepting way. Mindfulness can be cultivated through meditation, yoga, or Reiki that focus on awareness and acceptance. It is often used as a stress-reduction technique and has been shown to have positive effects on mental and physical health.
Mindfulness is simple to practice once you understand what is involved. It is a practice that you can easily integrate into your life, with some guidance and training.
#1 Is Mindfulness the Same as Meditation?
Mindfulness and meditation are not the same. Mindfulness refers to the practice of being present and fully engaged in the current moment, without judgment. Meditation is a specific technique or practice that is used to foster mindfulness and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. While mindfulness can be practiced in many ways, meditation is one way to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness can be practiced during meditation (Mindfulness Meditation for example). This is what is known as a formal Mindfulness Practice.
You can practice mindfulness informally. This is known as being in a mindful state. Mindfulness in the moment can help calm and center the mind. Mindfulness can also enhance everyday experiences such as meals.
Mindful eating is one easy way to make an everyday activity mindful. In the podcast, Mindful Eating with guest Health Coach Lisa Airhart, we discuss how slowing down, focusing on the meal, the setting and truly enjoying your meals can lead to a healthier relationship with food.
Mindfulness meditation is now my personal favorite way to practice meditation. It’s as simple as setting an intention on what your focus will be, settling into the meditation, then completing the meditation.
Focus Points for Mindfulness Meditation
- Focus on the Breath
- Focus on the Body (Such as the Body Scan)
- Focus on the Mind
#2 Can I practice Mindfulness without Meditation?
Mindfulness is a state of being It can be practiced during a Meditation. It can also be practiced outside of a meditation session. Mindfulness during activities such as walking simply means keeping the focus on the current activity. We all have thoughts that stray from the activity we are doing. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed, agitated, and discontent.
One my my favorite mindfulness practices is Mindful Walking. You can try this here.
This is the power of mindfulness, that it can be done at anytime and any place. The key is to learn mindfulness as a discipline, making it apart of your daily healing practice.
#3 How Does Mindfulness Change the Brain?
Practicing Mindfulness creates changes in the brain that can be long lasting. According to authors Danial Goleman and Richard Davidson, “mindfulness strengthens the brain’s ability to focus on one thing and ignore distractions.”1
The authors were able to demonstrate through research that mindfulness can improve focus, improve memory, and decease distractibility.
A regular mindfulness practice also lowers the threshold for reactivity. Regular practice reduces anxiety. Engaging in mindfulness trains the brain to shift away from the “Fight and Flight” in which stress hormones are elevated, to “rest and digest” mode. This is when the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged. The body prefers to operate in a “rest and digest” mode to allow for healing and recovery.
#4 What Conditions Can Mindfulness Help With? What is it Effective?
Mindfulness, in particular, Mindfulness Interventions can improve anxiety. Many treatments for anxiety, such as medications, can have side effects. Psychotherapy is a corner stone for treating anxiety, but is not always accessible or affordable. Mindfulness can be a healing modality available to anyone and has been shown to be effective.2
People living with chronic pain often have few treatment options to help them cope with pain. Mindfulness can help those living with chronic pain learn to separate themselves from the emotional reactions to the pain. Although this does not eliminate the pain, it can help with coping with the pain.
Many people trying to find relief from insomnia complain of being plagued with worries or racing thoughts when they try to fall asleep. Learning mindfulness can help train your brain not to get caught up on repetitive thoughts. This allows for natural relaxation and easing into sleep.
Similar to a regular meditation practice, mindfulness is a tool that can alleviate many conditions with few risks.
#5 What is the Best Way to Practice Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is best seen as skill. Initially having an instructor for guidance can help you develop confidence in your practice. After training, you don’t need any tools to practice mindfulness.
I like guided meditations as there is no pressure to try to sort out what the goals are of the meditation, but I’m moving towards practicing mindfulness because it is a simple practice. My favorite is simply to count each breath and note my thoughts, emotions during that breath.
- Goleman, D. & Davidson, R. (2017). Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes your Mind, Brain, and Body. New York, NY: Penguin Random House
- Zhang, D., Lee, E., Mak, E., Ho, C. Y., & Wong, S. (2021). Mindfulness-based interventions: an overall review. British medical bulletin, 138(1), 41–57. https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldab005