Photographer: Allison Fowles
Benefit Your Body and Emotions with Mindful Practices
There is growing evidence for the benefits of mindfulness on our health and well-being, but what does it actually mean to be mindful and how can it help us achieve greater wellness? Put simply, mindfulness is where we focus on our thoughts, feelings and environment. We do not pass any judgment on these and concentrate on just the moment so that our thoughts do not drift to the past or future. This Buddhist concept allows us to have greater awareness of ourselves, take responsibility for our actions and bring about welcome changes.
Mechanisms for mindfulness
There are four main components of mindfulness. Firstly, attention regulation, where we concentrate on a given entity, allows us to maintain our focus on the present. Secondly, body awareness puts us more in tune with our body when we concentrate on aspects such as our breathing or other sensations. Then emotion regulation, where we avoid examining our feelings, lets us accept our reactions to situations. Finally, by changing our self-perspective we acknowledge that change is possible, facilitating us to take positive steps that enhance our well-being.
Promoting better health through mindfulness
When we are mindful we can achieve better physical health. It is certainly the case that when we are more mindful of what we eat this helps us to select healthier foods and exert portion control, aiding weight maintenance and weight loss. There is also evidence that mindful practices can help us manage pain better and create a stronger immune system. However, your mental wellness can improve as well. For instance, practicing mindfulness is a valuable therapy to manage stress, anxiety, low mood and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also possible to boost memory, concentration and learning when we are more mindful. The benefits of mindfulness don’t end there though. Mindful practices can also promote stronger relationships and greater community spirit, as it makes us better at empathizing with others.
Appropriate use of mindful practices
All therapies have potential limitations and mindfulness is no exception. For example, when you are overly mindful this can make you hypersensitive to situations, such as your perception of pain. Equally, mindfulness may stifle creativity and stand in the way of learning new habits unconnected to conscious awareness. However, when you receive suitable instruction on this practice and understand when it is appropriate to use mindfulness, the benefits of this form of meditation far outweigh its potential drawbacks.
By Juliette Foster
Read Juliette’s Mindfulness guide here!