Mindfulness is something that keeps coming up. There are more studies on the benefits of cultivating mindfulness these days. How it can help with things like anxiety and bringing a sense of peace and calm. Do you have a mindfulness practice? I’ve been adding in 15-20 minutes of mindfulness meditation into my day these days. I find once I’m through the thought battle that happens, I can go on with my day with a sense of peace and connectivity. Here’s an article from Positive Psychology Program site that I found very interesting.
Being mindful of your thoughts and emotions promotes well-being
The concept of self-regulation is somewhat paradoxical in that regulation in the strictest sense of the word such as self-control is not ‘mindful’. Rather, mindfulness is a state that is characterized by introspection, openness, reflection and acceptance of oneself.
Recently in the field of psychology, there has been strong evidence demonstrating that mindfulness is significantly correlated with positive affect, life satisfaction, and overall well-being.
Mindfulness itself, however, is not a new concept; it has existed in Buddhism for over two thousand of years. Modern day research has made several interesting findings suggesting this ‘enhanced self-awareness’ diminishes stress and anxiety and, in turn, reduces the risk of developing cancer, disease, and psychopathology. It is useful to practice mindfulness in positive psychology as a tool for general physical and mental health.
Being mindful can improve your working memory
Working memory is the memory system that temporarily stores information in our minds for further recall and future processing. Many studies have been undertaken that suggest a strong interrelationship between attention and working memory.
van Vugt & Jha (2011) undertook research that involved taking a group of participants to an intensive month-long mindfulness retreat. These participants were compared with a control group who received no mindfulness training (MT). All participants from both groups first undertook a memory recognition task before any MT had been providing. The second round of a memory recognition task was then undertaken by all participants after the month’s training.
Results were positive – while accuracy levels were comparable across both groups, reaction times were much faster for the group that had received mindfulness training. These results suggested that MT leads to attentional improvements, particularly in relation to quality of information and decisional processes, which are directly linked to working memory.
It shrinks the stress region in your brain
Remember that time you rush through life with sweat palms and trouble sleeping at night? Every time we get stressed, the ‘amygdala’ takes over control.
Amygdala is a key stress-responding region in our brain and plays important role in anxious situations. It’s known that high amygdala activity is associated with depression and anxiety disorders (Siegle et al., 2002).
The good news is that mindfulness practice can actually shrink the size of amygdala and increase our stress reactivity threshold.
Recent research performed by Taren and colleagues shows a connection between long-term mindfulness practice and a decreased size of amygdala (Taren et al., 2013). By practicing mindfulness, we can change how we react to stressful situations and improve our mental and physical well-being.
Do you have a mindfulness practice? What do you do and how have you noticed that you feel?