Do you know the psychological benefits of Mindfulness? In this article we present them to you.
The philosophy and practice of Mindfulness is highly topical, and has generated great interest both in scientific circles and in the street.
Although Mindfulness seems to be the new fleeting trend in the field of well-being and meditation, it is not a recent phenomenon: its origins date back to the end of the 7th century BC, a historical moment closely linked to the emergence of Buddhism.
The benefits of Mindfulness
The fundamental objective of Mindfulness is to provide us with a method to learn how to manage emotions, reactions, attitudes and thoughts in order to face the situations that life presents us, through the practice and improvement of full consciousness. Thus, we will be able to discover that through the development of full attention in the present moment we develop certain positive attitudes in relation to our mental state and emotions, coming to control them from freedom, knowledge in oneself and acceptance.
Conscious attention as a key to self-knowledge
Mindfulness is about learning, connecting with our inner selves, managing our internal events and reacting more consciously and effectively to day-to-day events. The philosophy of conscious attention proposes that on this path we are able, progressively, to find the essence of who we are.
Ultimately, we must be aware that what causes us discomfort or anxiety are not the events, but how we link the emotions. Compassion and Self-pity are practices that help us to relate to events in a non-judgmental way and open to suffering, both our own and others’. In Mindfulness, compassion is key, as it helps us to minimize the impact of the negative things that happen to us. It is not a question of erasing the negative emotions that certain events can cause us, but rather of reducing their intensity.
Over the last centuries, Mindfulness techniques have been applied as support to psychotherapies used to solve different mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety, sleep disorders or pain tolerance, among others.
In this article we propose to develop eight benefits for your mental and physical health that Mindfulness can bring you.
1. Helps to control stress and anxiety
As we commented in the article “The 6 psychological benefits of Yoga”, the lifestyle of Western societies can lead many people to suffer from stress, causing psychological health problems such as depression, anxiety, etc. Like yoga, meditation and mindfulness reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress.
Cortisol is necessary for the body as it regulates and mobilizes energy in stressful situations, but if we have too much or it increases in situations where we do not need it, it produces many side effects. The practice of Mindfulness brings its practitioners a state of calm and serenity, which undoubtedly affects our physical and emotional health. In this way, cortisol levels drop, also causing blood pressure to decrease.
2. Put an end to the problems of insomnia
A University of Utah study found that training with Mindfulness can not only help us reduce stress and control anxiety, but can help us sleep better at night. According to Holly Roy, the author of this study, “people who practice mindfulness daily show better control over emotions and behaviors during the day. On the other hand, these people show a low level of cortical activation at night, which helps them sleep better”.
3. Protects the brain
American researchers from Harvard University Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have shown that meditation, a technique that is part of Mindfulness training, increases the size of the Telomeres, structures located at the ends of chromosomes that are directly related to aging and the development of certain pathologies associated with old age.
In addition, research from the University of Oregon concludes that meditation and Mindfulness can modify the neuronal structure of the brain. The usual practice of Mindfulness is associated with increased axonal density and increased myelin in the axons of the anterior cingulate cortex.
4. Increases the ability to concentrate
Mindfulness is a practice that focuses on the training of consciousness and full attention, in order to voluntarily direct these mental processes. A study by Walsh and Shapiro showed that Mindfulness is effective in increasing our ability to concentrate.
This fact has led experts to advise this practice as a complementary therapy in attention deficit disorders. In addition, a 2009 study by Moore and Malinowski concluded that the practice of Mindfulness correlated positively with cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning
5. Develops emotional intelligence
Mindfulness helps us to get to know ourselves, to investigate within ourselves and to show ourselves as we are. With its practice, Self-awareness and Self-knowledge are improved and it makes us evolve internally.
In addition, through compassion towards ourselves, things do not affect us so much. A study by Ortner, a researcher at the University of Toronto, showed that people who include Mindfulness in their lives have more emotional control than people who do not practice it
6. Improves interpersonal relations
A 2007 study by Wachs and Cordova suggests that a person’s ability to practice Mindfulness can predict the satisfaction of their relationships, that is, the ability to respond appropriately to relationship stress and the ability to communicate their emotions to the other person.
7. Encourages creativity
Meditation helps to calm the mind, and a calm mind has more room to generate new ideas. Researchers from the Institute of Brain and Cognition at Leiden University in the Netherlands found an increase in creativity in those who regularly practice Mindfulness.
8. Improved working memory
Improved work memory seems to be another benefit of the Mindfulness practice. A 2010 study by Jha documented the benefits of Mindfulness and meditation on a group of military personnel after their participation in a Mindfulness training program that lasted a total of eight weeks.
Data from this group was compared with data from another group of military personnel who had not participated in the program. The results showed that the group that had participated in the Mindfulness training program improved their working memory compared to the other group.