Mindfulness is a practice which involves concentrating on the here and now without judging the present moment. Rather it encourages acceptance of whatever is happening while we avoid going over the past or worrying about what might happen in the future.
This technique, which sounds quite simple, but which actually requires a continuous commitment to develop can actually improve your quality of life over time. That sounds like a pretty big statement, but there is much scientific evidence to back it up.
Here are 4 ways mindfulness can improve your life:
1. Encourages peace of mind
Many studies have shown scientific evidence that mindfulness decreases stress, perhaps the biggest impediment to quality of life in the western world today. The process of focusing the mind on the present moment reduces one’s ability to enter into the stressful way of thinking that we are used to.
It can be difficult to train yourself to be mindful but with practice, it becomes an easier, more natural mode of being than our default stress-ridden state.
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
2. Assists in letting go
If you are prone to brooding over things you might have said or done then mindfulness can probably help you. Whether it is a small concern, such as Baby from Dirty Dancing regretting telling heart-throb Johnny that she ’carried a watermelon’ or something more serious such as worrying that a decision you made at work was warranted, ruminating the process of running events over and over in your mind never helps us to get any closer to a sense of closure on the topic.
In fact, it does the exact opposite, drawing us further and further into self-criticism. The practice of mindfulness meditation can involve placing all of your attention on a constant phenomenon, such as the breath. When you do this you have to let all other thoughts go, in doing so, over time you become adept at letting the little stressors go.
3. Aids focus & concentration
As mentioned above, mindfulness meditation involves focusing on one particular thing and letting all other thoughts pass you by almost like a leaf being carried along on a river. While you let those thoughts pass you by, some of which may be extremely engaging, your power of focus is increased as you place all your attention on the breath or whatever focus point you are using.
Luckily, this benefit of mindfulness extends to the rest of our daily lives. Research has found that those who practice mindfulness have better focus and concentration levels. This comes in very handy in the late afternoon when we start to get tired and our minds start to wander.
“The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
4. Improves decision making ability
If you are not stressed, have a clear, focused mind then surely decision making becomes easier. Mindfulness can increase self-awareness as you notice more and more what thoughts draw you into negative thought patterns. We also learn to understand in greater detail how we respond to stressors.
Armed with this information and an ability to look at situations from a remove without getting caught up in the heat of the moment we can stand back and make the best decision for us without being negatively influenced by negative thought processes.