The practice of mindfulness is everywhere. Business leaders, professional athletes, mental health professionals, and, of course, your neighbor down the street are all discussing how being mindful can improve our mental state and general well-being. Mindfulness is used as an approach for treating pain, depression, anxiety, OCD, addiction, chronic diseases, and HIV treatment side effects, as well as an aid in weight loss and in being more productive. So what is mindfulness? And what does the research have to say about its ability to better our lives?
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can have different definitions depending on whom you ask but however one defines mindfulness, the different approaches to the practice all fall under the idea of paying attention on purpose. This can mean noticing the things we take for granted from the feel of our shoes against our feet to the ways we interact with others. More clinically, mindfulness is defined as the self-regulation of attention with an attitude toward openness.
The meditation and emphasis on being fully aware of your surroundings often associated with the practice of mindfulness have similarities to traditional Buddhist practices, but today’s reincarnation of mindfulness is entirely secular. Mindfulness-based stress reduction programs (known as MBSRs) typically focus on internal self reflection and the reduction of distractions as you focus your thoughts on the present.
The Science of Mindfulness
What are the evidence-backed benefits of participating in a mindfulness program?
- Memory Improvement
- Stress Reduction
- Healthier Diet
- Sleep Improvement
Let's explore each a little further.