The Buddhists got it right. Mindfulness is everything. I’m forever amazed by the profound benefits of such a simple practice each and every time I explore it. If you don’t know what mindfulness is exactly, it can best be defined as a special kind of awareness – one that’s steeped in presence. It’s a way of being absolutely present with one’s life, in every moment, with loving attention and without judgment. In mindfulness meditation we become truly aware and attentive to what’s happening in the world around us, as well as the world within. Here are five of the top benefits this timeless practice offers:
We see our lives more clearly
The more we practice mindfulness meditation, the more we’re able to see things as they truly are – as they’re happening in the present moment. All life happens in the present moment. Whenever I drop into a mindfulness meditation I realize just how much we all filter what’s happening in front us through the lens of our mind, which is always making up stories – many of which aren’t at all true. But mindfulness allows us to get a firm grasp on reality – which helps us make better choices in the course of our lives.
Mindfulness wards of depression
This is a really important piece for everyone because we all want to avoid falling in to the deep, dark well of depression whenever possible. Mindfulness works to help halt the mental processes that make us depressed, by allowing the mind to see its own thoughts through a clear, witnessing lens – before letting those depressing thoughts spiral into patterns of negative thinking. By cultivating acceptance for every thought we have, we give it a warm hug, as if we were soothing a crying baby. Holding a negative thought with loving attention allows it to just be – until it has run its course and goes away.
Mindfulness is a stress buster
I love this one because stress is so detrimental to our health – in so many ways. Mindfulness actually helps alleviate stress and tension in the mind because it builds our brain’s cortical tissue, its hippocampus, and the cortex of the insula. This results in a smaller amygdala – the reptilian part of our brains responsible for the fight or flight response. By building the areas of our brain that stop stress and negative emotions, we’re benefiting our entire body and mind, making it increasingly healthier as we age.
Mindfulness improves our relationships
This one’s a biggie because we’re all in relationship at all times. Cultivating healthy relationships is part and parcel of living a happy, healthy life. Connection is everything, and mindfulness teaches us to be present for our loved ones – which is what they need most. By listening to them with mindful awareness and acceptance, they feel more unconditionally loved, and this is key in establishing and maintaining good relationships throughout our lives.
Our lives become sacred
There’s real beauty in absolutely every moment of our lives – if only we could see it. Mindfulness meditation helps us see that our spiritual life and our secular life are one and the same. Whenever I practice mindfulness, I see the beauty in a seemingly mundane conversation, the wonder of a raindrop as it hits my window pane, or the amazing reality of my own breath, which is always breathing through me. By stopping the daydream of our lives we get steeped in the present – and the present moment is so endlessly sacred. Mindfulness helps us experience just how sacred our lives are – in each and every moment. What a gift!