There’s a term that gets thrown around by a lot of wellness publications: “mindfulness”. It’s one of those confusing terms that can alienate a lot of people right off the bat because it’s rare that someone takes the time to explain it. So before we go any further, let’s take a look at what mindfulness is.
There’s a few different ways you can think about mindfulness, but the easiest one to understand is the way the American Psychological Association (APA) views it: “a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment.” It can be helpful to think of mindfulness as more of a state you are in than a trait you possess. Many people associate the term mindfulness with practices such as yoga or meditation, but it is not exclusive to these – nor they with it. Yoga, qigong, meditation, tai chi – all of these can help achieve a state of mindfulness through self-regulation and a focus on mental awareness, so if you’re interested in becoming more mindful, they’re a great place to begin. Now, let’s take a look at what mindfulness can do for you.
- Stress reduction: mindfulness-based therapies have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Boost focus: mindfulness meditation has been demonstrated to positively affect the ability to focus one’s attention and ignore distracting information.
- Memory improvement: Tests have shown that memory can be boosted by mindfulness training and meditation.
The APA suggests that mindfulness training can have beneficial impacts for therapists because it can boost empathy, compassion, and counselling skills, and it can decrease stress and anxiety related to work.
Interestingly, debate continues over the benefits of mindfulness, especially when concerning those more advanced in age. A review of all studies to date of the effects of mindfulness on the elderly shows that a majority of these studies indicate benefits as a result of mindfulness. However, it also found several studies that produced different conclusions.
Overall, the studies point to benefits through mindfulness training “by promoting cognitive, physical and emotional health.” The benefits, the report continues, are clear in those with insignificant or no psychological symptoms as well as those already diagnosed with psychological and medical conditions.
Do you practice mindfulness training already? What benefits have you noticed?