How can mindfulness help me?
Mindfulness is an important factor in wellbeing, contentment and life satisfaction. As the Mental Health Foundation out it, Mindfulness ‘involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings so we become more aware of them, less enmeshed in them, and better able to manage them.’
It shifts the mind into a more positive emotional state, as well as improving our immune system. It reduces our reactivity to life events, so that stress levels drop. Our emotional intelligence is enhanced. We can work more effectively. It helps develop resilience.
There is a growing body of research to confirm this. Mental activity is correlated with activity in the brain. The arrival of brain scanners has allowed researchers to see that our mind can change the structure of the brain. Regular practice of mindfulness has been observed to produce permanent and beneficial changes in the brains wiring.
In mindfulness you are directing your attention, on purpose, to your experiences from moment to moment. Our minds tend to wander but mindfulness helps develop our powers of attention because we are more aware where our mind is. And our ability to attend is a powerful predictor of success.
More importantly mindfulness builds some distance between you and the contents of your mind. What we experience in our mind is our brains commentary on life. Thoughts and feelings are not statements of facts. Our mental state is a result of the brain drawing on past experience, and those memories themselves are influenced by our thoughts and feelings and bodily sensations. It’s a constantly changing landscape. What we are experiencing in our minds from moment to moment is not necessarily true to our real life situation.
In short, stepping back from our mind allows us more freedom in the way we respond to our moment to moment experiences.
One of the most powerful demonstrations of mindfulness is found in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy(MBCT). It is recommended by NICE as the most effective way to prevent relapse into a depressive episode.
It’s a lifeskill useful for everyone. Even Google offers mindfulness training to its staff!