The roots of mindfulness go back thousands of years to Eastern philosophy. Fortunately, these ideas have been passed down through generations to our modern society–where we need mindfulness and acceptance more than ever, and where these practices have been proven to improve our mental and physical health. If you’ve thought about jumping into mindfulness, whether as philosophy or via meditation, there is no better time than now. Here are eight reasons why that we can all appreciate.
Mindfulness works to increase our happiness in two ways: both when things are going well and when life is throwing us curveballs. When life is going smoothly, we have a tendency to live on auto-pilot, without taking any time to stop and appreciate the small gifts that everyday life gives us. Mindfulness, whether through daily meditation or practiced moment-to-moment, allows us to observe and reflect on the immense beauty in our daily lives that many tend not to see. In fact, even in moments of pain, there can be beauty–in tears, in how people come together during tough times, or even how the sun continues to rise and fall every day regardless of our own individual circumstances. Mindfulness helps us find and appreciate these things that we ordinarily overlook.
We’ve all felt anxiety, particularly in today’s whirlwind-paced world. Perhaps you’ve felt it recently–maybe you were anxious in your car, stuck in traffic and late for an appointment. Maybe you were worried about a bill that you mailed in late. In either of these cases–or almost any instance of anxiety, for that matter—mindfulness can alleviate that feeling of fear and powerlessness. Next time you’re stuck in traffic, for example, observe the moment and ask yourself if you have the power to change anything. Chances are that you don’t, and therefore, your anxiety is only causing you unnecessary suffering. Being mindful and aware of the things we do and do not have control over is a powerful way to reduce our daily anxiety.
Being mindful allows us to still ourselves, to take in the world impartially as it comes, and to clear our minds of extraneous thought. Mindfulness practice ensures we don’t waste our mental or physical resources on what is beyond our control. This leads to renewed energy in our minds as well as our bodies–energy we can spend on the things that truly matter.
Most of us have lain awake restlessly for more than a few nights of our lives, thinking about an upcoming deadline or just not able to turn off our stream of thoughts. Practicing mindfulness, particularly mindfulness meditation, cultivates a side of us that is content with being still. This stillness can help us clear our minds nightly before sleep. When we can accept all that life throws at us, good and bad, we are much less likely to toss and turn in bed–and much more likely to turn in at the same time each night.
One of the main principles of mindfulness is acceptance of things as they are. This does not only mean acceptance of our surroundings, others, and the outside world–it means acceptance of ourselves. If you find yourself having a negative self-view, comparing yourself in a non-constructive way to others, or just not valuing the unique value you bring to the world, mindfulness will help. The practice of being mindful allows us to look into our inner mirror, and the more often you do so, the more comfortable you will feel with yourself. Additionally, you’ll feel pride in yourself for working towards improving your life via mindfulness.
Mindfulness is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Just three minutes of mindfulness meditation can quiet the mind, lower the stress level, and promote more relaxation. This, in turn, can have a domino effect, improving your mood and outlook on life, ability to cope, the perception of pain, and enhance overall mental and physical health.
Many studies demonstrate that mindfulness can provide significant relief from a wide variety of chronic pain conditions and syndromes including IBS, backaches, headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, AIDS and cancer. Additionally, these individuals also experienced an increase in their ability to perform their daily activities, less psychological distress, better sleep and mood, higher tolerance for pain, a boost in immune function, better coping skills and a higher quality of life.
A Richer, Deeper and More Meaningful Life
Individuals who practice mindfulness experience a wide variety of other benefits like an enhanced sense of well-being, more inner peace, empathy and compassion, higher levels of consciousness, self-awareness, creativity, insight, and intuition, better memory and cognitive functioning, and a life that is deeper, more fulfilling and enriched.
The best news is that mindfulness is very easy to learn and can literally be achieved in minutes and immediately put to use. If you’d like to learn how, you can use my short and simple guide, Meditating for Health, and be on your way within the hour with 15 different techniques. If you have a chronic pain condition, then you may be interested in my technique that can be found in Mindfulness Over Chronic Pain, and if you deal with migraines, then you may find my Mindfulness Over Migraines to be of help.
As you can see, the practice of mindfulness can greatly transform your life. Whether you start small, by trying to be more aware day-to-day, or if you dive head-first into meditation, you will quickly see many benefits. However, regular practice is the key. Repetition will strengthen neural connections that will make it easier and quicker to achieve the goal. The more you practice the greater the reward.