For thousands of years, Buddhists have participated in meditation and mindfulness to understand themselves and their connection to their surroundings as well as other living beings. They hope that they can release themselves from all worldly sufferings and ultimately gain enlightenment by doing this.
Although these may seem like unrealistic expectations to some, the practice of mindfulness can benefit everyone – even if not to that extent.
In recent decades, researchers have been gaining insight into the benefits of practising this ancient tradition. They’ve found that learning to pay attention to our current experiences and accepting them without judgments can lead us to become happier in our life in general. In fact, mindfulness has been shown to positively impact almost all aspects of our psychological well-being, including mood, emotions, feelings, and emotional reactivity.
In addition to that, recent studies also have provided some evidence that mindfulness can affect our bodies. After combining a number of studies researching the benefits of mindfulness, it has been concluded that mindfulness positively impacts our hearts, brains, immune system, and more.
So if you’re still not practising mindfulness, here are a few benefits that may cause you to change your mind.
Mindfulness is considered to be a key strategy in fighting stress. The practise of mindfulness improves emotion regulation, which leads to better moods and improved ability to handle stress. In fact, stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation in the first place. Mental and physical stress leads to an increased level of cortisol – also known as the stress hormone.
As a consequence, this produces many harmful effects of stress, including an inflammatory chemical called cytokines. These can lead to disrupted sleep, increased depression and anxiety, fatigue and cloudy thinking, and may even increase blood pressure. In an 8-week study, where participants took part in mindfulness meditation, it was observed that this practice reduced the inflammation response caused by stress.
Helps Managing Anxiety
Reduced levels of stress can also lead to less anxiety. A meta-analysis that included nearly 1,300 adults showed that meditation caused a drop in anxiety levels. It is interesting to note that the effect was more robust in the participants who suffered from the highest anxiety levels.
Practising mindfulness may also help manage job-related anxiety. A study found that employees who used a mindfulness meditation app over eight weeks experienced improved feelings of well-being and decreased distress and job strain. Various studies have also shown that a variety of mindfulness and meditation exercises can significantly reduce anxiety levels.
Improves Mental Well-Being
The way we experience our day to day events has a significant effect on our overall mental well-being. But if we are affected by adverse events of the past, it may decrease our ability to experience joy in the present moment. Being mindful helps you become fully engaged in activities and increases your ability to deal with adverse events in a healthy manner. This makes it easier for you to savour the pleasures of life as they occur.
People who practice mindfulness note that they are less likely to get caught up in regrets over the past or worries of the future and can focus on the now. Instead of being preoccupied with concerns about success and failure, they can connect with others and themselves.
Meditation may also help you develop a more robust understanding of yourself, helping you grow into the best version of yourself. The idea is to gain greater awareness of your thoughts, hobbies, and other patterns and work on them to street them towards more constructive usage. When you become more aware of your strengths and weakness, you naturally start taking steps to improve yourself.
A review of 27 studies showed that the practice of tai chi might help improve self-efficiency. This is a term used to describe a person’s belief in their ability or capacity to overcome obstacles. Another study with 153 adults showed that people who used a mindfulness meditation app for two weeks experienced reduced feelings of loneliness and better social contact than those who didn’t. In addition to that, meditation may increase your creativity at problem-solving skills.
Improves Physical Health
If all the benefits for your mental health aren’t enough to motivate you to practice mindfulness, then you may be surprised to learn that it benefits your physical health as well. Scientists have discovered that mindfulness can treat heart disease, reduce chronic pain, lower blood pressure, alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties, and improve sleep.
Additionally, mindfulness can help reduce cell ageing. Studies have suggested that long-term meditators have reduced cell ageing compared to those who don’t meditate at all. Although there needs to be more research to understand this specific benefit of meditation, the studies that have been done so far look promising.
May Fight Age-Related Memory Loss
Meditation causes you to improve attention and clarity of thinking. A positive side effect of this may be that it can keep your mind young and healthy. Studies in people with age-related memory loss have shown that practising mindfulness can improve performance on neuropsychological tests.
Studies have also shown that practising multiple mediation styles can increase attention, memory, mental quickness, and overall mental strength in older volunteers.
The great thing is that practising mindfulness is so easy that everyone can effortlessly take part in it. So stop making excuses and start reaping all these benefits now.