What is Mindfulness and How Can it Help You?

Learn what mindfulness is & how it can help you become more aware of your thoughts & feelings. Discover the benefits & formal training programs available.

What is Mindfulness and How Can it Help You?

Mindfulness is a practice of being present in the moment, no matter what you are doing. It is a way to become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. This practice can help you to become more aware of your emotions and reactions, allowing you to respond to situations in a more mindful way. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness, even for a few weeks, can bring a variety of physical, psychological and social benefits.

Mindfulness meditation is one way to cultivate mindfulness. This type of meditation involves focusing on being in the moment, no matter what you are doing at that time. Any method that helps you gradually descend into quiet mindfulness is beneficial, whether it's taking a deep breath, imagining a lush forest, or listening to the roar of waves on the shore. Jon Kabat-Zinn emphasizes that while mindfulness can be cultivated through formal meditation, that's not the only way.

Mindfulness can also be practiced through activities such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong. These activities help to bring awareness to your body and mind, allowing you to become more mindful of your thoughts and feelings. The English word mindful comes from the Old English words myndful, which meant “with a good memory”, and from myndig, which means “to remember; reflective”. Mindfulness training has been used to teach self-mutilators to observe and identify their feelings in order to have some control over them.

It has also been used to help those diagnosed with an improvised explosive device to manage their emotions and reactions. If you're interested in more formal training, there are successful programs for cultivating mindfulness that have been identified. These include biofeedback, mindfulness meditation, various forms of martial arts, and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR is an eight-week program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn that combines mindfulness meditation with yoga and body awareness exercises.

Since its development in 1979, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of MBSR, inspiring countless programs to adapt the MBSR model to schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and more. Mindfulness is an important practice for anyone looking to become more aware of their thoughts and feelings. It can help you to become more present in the moment and respond to situations in a mindful way. There are many ways to cultivate mindfulness such as formal meditation or activities like yoga or tai chi. If you're interested in more formal training there are successful programs available such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.