Written by MaddyGal
At some point in your life, you’ve probably been told to “live in the moment”. This sentiment is becoming ever more popular as technology continues to disrupt our everyday lives and constantly demand our attention. Besides the obvious benefits of being less distracted, mindfulness may actually benefit your health.
You may be wondering what mindfulness is exactly. Mindfulness is an ancient practice which focuses on being completely aware of what’s happening right now. A lot of people have an idea of meditation or mindfulness that involves sitting quietly with your eyes closed in a pose that your legs can’t quite do while you try not to think. This isn’t entirely accurate.
Mindfulness is really about not living your life on autopilot and instead of being present for each moment, experiencing life as it unfolds moment to moment. This is something that most people don’t do. Oftentimes, our minds are racing about what we’re supposed to be doing next and is rarely completely focused on what we’re doing or where we are. Let’s be real, who hasn’t had an entire, yet completely made up conversation in their head while driving or getting groceries or in the shower? It seems like no matter what, our minds tend to be elsewhere. Even during the most mundane or basic tasks, mindfulness urges us to be present.
Mindfulness can seriously benefit your health. Studies suggest that mindfulness meditation can help you manage stress, reduce anxiety and depression, and help you cope better with serious illness. Most people who regularly practice mindfulness report experiencing greater enthusiasm for life, improved self-esteem, and an increased ability to relax. Hello, better sleep!
One study even found a link between mindfulness and quantifiable changes in the brain regions related to learning, memory, and emotion. Another researcher reported that mindfulness meditations may help reduce hostility and anxiety among urban youth, while leading to fewer fights, reduced stress, and better relationships.
Another major benefit of mindfulness is that it requires you to pay more attention to your thoughts, actions, and body. For example, mindfulness can help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Many people mindlessly snack while watching TV or Netflix without really paying attention to how much they’re consuming. Mindful eating involves only eating when you’re actually hungry, focusing on each bite of food, and stopping when you’re full.
Although finding time for mindfulness can feel impossible, it’s really about focusing on the here and now, no matter where that may be. As you’re walking up the stairs, be present and aware of what each step feels like. You can practice mindfulness while answering emails, sitting in traffic, and waiting in line. Once you become more mindful, it’s common to notice how much your mind jumps around. Try to just notice these thoughts without judgement and then bring your mind back to the present moment. These little steps add up and create a mindful, healthy life.