1. A Quick Breakdown
Mindfulness is a type of mental training often accomplished through meditation. The purpose of practicing mindfulness is not to change your thoughts, but rather to change your relationship with your thoughts. As such, an elementary principle of mindfulness is the idea that you are not your thoughts.
When practicing mindfulness, you allow your thoughts to pass through your mind without judgment or criticism. As we saw in the clip above, you become an observer of your own mind. What does this do? In the short-term, it allows you to observe what’s going on around you, in the present moment, without bias. It provides a buffer which calms your emotional and physiological reaction to stressful thoughts.
2. The Science
Mindfulness is powerful. Among other things, mindfulness boosts emotional regulation, working memory, planning and organization, self-esteem, sense of calmness, relaxation, and self acceptance. Over the long-term, mindfulness can also not only prevent depression, but it can positively influence the patterns in the brain which underlie stress, anxiety, depression, and mood swings. Note, negative emotions don’t just disappear (nor should they), but they dissolve away more easily.
Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822-848.
Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research,
Mindfulness can be practiced many ways. Today, try mindful eating!
1. Have a seat. Meals consumed in a relaxed setting, can help release neurohormones which enhance happiness and reduce stress. By slowing down physically, the body receives signals that it’s time to relax. Before you eat, slow down, have a seat, and take a few deep breaths.
2. Slow down! Did I say slow down, already? Put your fork down between each bite and chew each bite slowly. This may be difficult at first, but you will get better with practice.
3. Eat in silence for at least five minutes. At the beginning of your meal, try to eat in silence for a few minutes. Allow time to savor the food.