Try mindfulness in daily life to restore health and happiness. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness through meditation, breathing, or gentle exercises can improve symptoms of illness by lowering stress and elevating mood.
What is mindfulness?
Simply put, mindfulness is an awareness and nonjudgmental acceptance of moment to moment experiences. Cultivating this state can be an effective way to deal with distress, anxiety, worry, fear, pain, anger, and more. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Well, maybe, but some things certainly feel terrible. By over engaging with these natural emotions, we feed negative feelings and perpetuate the potentially disturbing sensation of thinking too much. Mindfulness can help counteract this. According to a 2011 report in the journal Clinical Psychology Review, “Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies,” interest in the scientific investigation of mindfulness as a clinical intervention has surged in recent years.
Does mindfulness help with stress?
Every person is different, of course, but researchers have found that meditation one type of mindfulness practice increases well-being and improves behavior regulation while reducing symptoms of illness and emotional reactivity.
How can I start practicing mindfulness?
Don’t use meditation to replace conventional care or to delay seeing a doctor about a medical problem. But if you’re interested in meditating, try this: Find a quiet, distraction free location, then sit or lie down in a comfortable position that you can hold easily. Focus your attention on one specific thing; for example, it could be a word, an object, or your breathing. Continue concentrating for two minutes without judgment if negative thoughts or other distractions enter your head, it’s OK, just let them come and go without emotion. As it gets easier, increase your time spent focusing. Meditation can take some practice, but when you get the hang of it, you may find it helps you. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) offers information about meditation for specific conditions such as pain, anxiety and depression, and smoking cessation, among others.
Can mindfulness affect my body?
Exercises such as tai chi or yoga which combine physical postures with breathing techniques and meditation may also be beneficial in developing mindfulness. In fact, yoga is one of the top 10 complementary health approaches used by adults in the United States, according to NCCIH. Those surveyed report a reduction in pain as well as a positive increase in overall mood and function. Poses can be adapted to meet individual needs and abilities. Remember: It’s never too late to try something new. We could probably all use a little more peace, quiet, and calm in our hectic lives.
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