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Mindfulness - Various Practices, Principles, and Benefits

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Mindfulness is a psychological state of self-awareness. This practice nurtures awareness and gives a new vision to processing information.

Written by

Dr. Shuchi Jain

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Aishwarya Ilavarasan

Published At November 10, 2022
Reviewed AtFebruary 8, 2023

Introduction:

Mindfulness is awareness of what we are doing, where we are, and being fully present at that moment. It is a natural process that we follow, but practicing it makes us more aware of ourselves and our surroundings. It is an ancient practice to treat various mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Thus it proves as a powerful tool to augment psychotherapy.

It is also a supported therapy that promises personal and interpersonal development.

Mindfulness is also a practice of accepting things - as they are, embracing life with all its difficulties and thus boosting happiness. In recent years, practicing it has gained popularity. It is an effective way of maintaining emotional and mental well-being.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is moment-by-moment awareness. It is psychological freedom that promotes awareness of every single activity one performs. There is no judgment in thoughts, and thus, the attention seems quiet and flexible. Mindfulness is achieved by various activities such as yoga, meditation, etc.

Ancient and Modern Definitions of Mindfulness:

  • The word originates from the Pali word sati, which means awareness and remembering. It is a Buddhist teaching pathway to make people aware of realities and sufferings, thus transforming them into less egoistic and healthy-happy individuals.

  • The modern definition states that it is a simple observation of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and surroundings by being non-judgmental and kind.

What Are the Various Practices of Mindfulness?

One can start by:

  1. Paying attention to everything around you - looking at the surroundings, observing yourself and the things around you.

  2. Concentration.

  3. Living in the moment.

  4. Releasing tension.

  5. Treat yourself in the best way possible.

  6. Awareness of your body.

  7. Mindful breathing.

  8. Meditation.

Several practices can stimulate mindfulness, such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong. But practicing mindful meditation has a desired outcome. Mindful meditation brings the thought process under self-control and thus instills calmness, clarity, and concentration. This, in turn, upgrades mental well-being.

What Are the Principles of Mindfulness?

There are seven principles:

  1. A Non-judgemental Attitude: Our brain is consistently involved in judging things endlessly, which keeps us engaged and utilizes our energy. The first principle of mindfulness is to have a non-judgmental attitude. See things the way they are. Do not mix it with your thoughts and imagination. One should be curious but must let the judgment go.

  2. Patience: Nowadays, we all want immediate solutions to almost everything. Patience is another aspect covered in mindfulness. It teaches you that things take their own time and ultimately unfold. One must develop patience to live a burden-free life.

  3. A Beginner’s Mind: New perspectives initiate new beginnings. We often consider things the way we know them and create our bubble of thought. But sometimes, making a fresh start and seeing them for the first time without preconceived expectations might do wonders.

  4. Trust: Developing trust in your intuitions and feelings is the best way to get any direction rather than looking for it from someone else. You might fail, but it would aid in long-term benefits. The sole intention here is to find your wisdom.

  5. Non-striving: One should be least bothered by what they must have done in the past or future. They should not be surrounded by the feeling of - I wish! I would have done this, or only if I did this, I would have become that. The main idea is to be present with intentions and least bothered about the results. This is the most difficult part- as everyone does things for a purpose or goal.

  6. Acceptance: It simply means taking things the way they are. Loving and accepting yourself keeps you from the vicious circle of wanting to be something else. We should acknowledge our thoughts and feelings and accept them to feel the change and growth.

  7. Let Go Attitude: Each of us must have come across two types of memories - one, a happy one, and the other, a sad one.

We wish to keep up with happy memories and want to forget the sad ones. Happy memories elevate our mood, whereas sad memories leave us in sorrow. In meditation practice, we accept the good memories and reject the bad ones. We observe and let go of the one that makes us sad and allow the happy memories to dwell.

Why Be Mindful and How?

Mindfulness has the following benefits:

  1. Emotion Regulation: Mindful meditation promotes self-awareness, decreases the habit of processing negative thoughts, and enhances attention capabilities. This increases working memory, further contributing to emotion regulation processes. It also disengages emotional reactivity.

  2. Stress Reduction: It has been found that mindful meditation reduces stress and rumination. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapies are best for treating multiple clinical mental health issues. This therapy lowers negative thoughts, anxiety, and depression.

  3. Boost Memory: Another benefit of mindfulness is improved working memory.

  4. Focus: Practicing mindfulness is about attention, alertness, and awareness. It improves focus and suppresses distractions.

  5. Flexibility: Mindfulness promotes mental flexibility. Since practicing mindfulness generates self-observation. Also, it makes one more adaptive to stress or negative thoughts. It aids in faster recovery from mental tension and trauma.

  6. Relationship: Mindfulness allows one to handle relationship stress and conflicts better. It thereby benefits relationship satisfaction.

  7. Other Benefits: Mindfulness has many health benefits, such as increased immune functioning, well-being, and calm stress. It also improves your information processing speed, decreases task effort, etc.

How Does Mindfulness Treat Mood Disorders?

Mindfulness training treats mood disorders by improving connectivity inside brain areas. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is about - guiding people to watch sensations and feelings rather than focusing on thoughts. This has an impact on the brain pathway that elevates mood.

Practicing Mindfulness in the Workplace:

Many big platforms, such as Google, Apple, etc., have participated in mindfulness training programs to improve employees' productivity and well-being. This practice has significantly improved work-life balance, conflicts, job satisfaction and productivity, focus, positive relationship with work, etc.

Mindfulness and Depression:

Depression is among the most common mental illnesses worldwide. Antidepressants may lose their effectiveness with time. In such cases, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is applied. It prevents relapse and has no side effects. In depression, a person develops a habit of negative thinking and wanders often. Mindfulness trains people on - how to deal with these thoughts. It develops acceptance of the past, present, and future, decreasing rumination.

Conclusion:

Mindfulness is the act of generating awareness. It improves mental and emotional well-being. It can do miracles and benefit you with self-control, objectivity, improved tolerance, enhanced flexibility, concentration and mental clarity, emotional intelligence, and the ability to relate to others and self with kindness, acceptance, and compassion. The pillars of mindfulness are - a non-judging attitude, feeling of gratitude, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance, letting go, and generosity. One should practice mindfulness to live a qualitative life.

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Dr. Aishwarya Ilavarasan
Dr. Aishwarya Ilavarasan

Naturopathy

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