Many people say to me that mindfulness mainly helps me to be 'calm' but there are so much it has to offer beyond 'being calm'. Listed below are 10 of the reason mindfulness should be practise regularly in our everyday lives.
1.) Improved Emotional Well-being: Many studies have supported that engagement in mindfulness practise helps provide a sense of calm, reducing stress, worry, anxiety and depression. Additionally, studies have also expressed the role mindfulness plays in reducing emotional reactivity which should be defined not only as an outward expression of emotion but also as the experience of intensity of the emotions we experience internally. Mindfulness can help us not only to learn to respond to our emotions with non-judgement and kindness but also allows us to be less reactive to triggers and events in the world around us.
2.) Increased Immunity and Improved Physical Health: Associate Professor Dr Craig Hassed from Monash University explains that practising mindfulness improves our physical health. In this changing world we live in with increasing demands and pressures, over-activation or the flight or fight response can release excessive stress hormones into our bodies which can adversely impact our immune function. We are less likely to experience colds and flues and virus's when we practise mindfulness as mindfulness serves as the antidote to stress chemicals increasing our physical bodies.
3.) Slows down Ageing: In 2009 Nobel Prize Winner Elizabeth Blackburn showed that meditation significantly slows ageing. Her research discovered the existence of 'telomeres' a protective 'cap' that sits on our choromozones. Every time a cell divides, these protective 'caps' wear down, and over time, the telomeres shorten. As the telomeres shorten, the cells start to malfunction and lose their ability to divide. Scientists today use telomere length as a metric for ageing and disease risk. Dr. Blackburn decided to study the effects of meditation on telomere length. A pilot study was conducted on individuals exposed to meditation and it was found that there was a 30% increase in telomerase activity! Many studies have now concluded that meditation supports improved quality of life and longevity.
4.) Improved Attention and Concentration: Mindfulness is the art of focusing ones attention on an object or sensation. The act of continually bringing the mind back to the object we intend to focus on can be described as taking your mind to the gym. The faculties of our brain linked with attention get stronger.
5.) Improves Memory, Learning and Executive Functioning:
Do you have to learn a new language fast? Master a new role in your workplace? or memorise information for an exam or test? Memory and learning improve as a bi-product of training the attention as we are better able to encode and store the information with our brain. If you want to enhance your capacity to learn new subjects faster establishing a daily mindfulness practise improves your learning capacity and performance in everyday life.
6.) Improved Relationships: Many people listen to respond, rather than listen to seek understanding of others. Have you ever found yourself talking to someone about something important to you but they're not fully present, how did it make you feel? Maybe you get introduced to someone at a party and you forget their name within moments of hearing their name announced. The art of powerful presence is to be powerfully present. If we want to make people feel valued we must develop our attention through mindful listening. Next time you notice yourself zoning out in a conversation, begin to become more aware of this and bring your focus back to the person speaking. With mindfulness practise you will get better everyday at being more centred in the present moment and as a result experience better connection and more meaningful interactions with others.
7.) Improved Self Awareness and Mind-body Connection: The experience of mindfulness can not be taught through a book or through conversation. Mindfulness is something that ca only be understood through personal experience. The more you practise mindfulness, the more you will begin to gain self awareness of your thoughts, emotions and whats occurring within your body. Mindfulness is a process that assists us to quieten the mind and when we do this we begin to connect to our intuition where our most fulfilling lives are inspired from this place.
8.) Improves Sleep: insomnia and sleep problems are often a result or stress or sleep related disorders. Mindfulness is known to enhance sleep for both adults and children as mindfulness serves to increase relaxation, changes the activity in the brain. Smiling Minds recently conducted research with 1,853 Students across 12 schools in Victoria, Australia. Students who participated in the Smiling Minds education program significantly improved their sleep habits.
9.) Enhances Imagination and Cultivates Creativity: Austin Hill Shaw is founder of Creativity Matters and explained in his presentation to Google that mindfulness meditation helps us to start to quieten the logical parts of our brain that then allow us to access more creative areas of our brain. Today, the Western world is largely place of over-stimulation and most of our mental space is now monopolised through the consumption of information. The latter reality leaves little mental space available for creativity and exploring imagination. Practising Mindfulness Hill states allows us to become more calm and creative individuals.
10.) Improves Occupational Performance: Performers from a variety of disciplines - including sport, dance and music - can use mindfulness to achieve peak performance and improve personal well-being. Often dis-tractability, excessive stress or anxiety impedes our ability to perform at our best in a variety of settings. Mental skills built through mindfulness training serve to improve psychological well-being for managing performance anxiety during high performance activity and many studies on elite figures in high performance fields have supported this finding.