Why Mindfulness Works

Mindfulness refers to the practice of focusing on the present moment and taking a non-judgmental stance. Numerous research studies have documented the benefits of mindfulness, including improved self-compassion, acceptance, lower stress, and reduced symptoms of mental illness. A recent study  examined why exactly mindfulness might be so effective. Researchers proposed that mindfulness is effective because it breeds resilience. Researchers examined surveys from 327 undergraduates and found that mindfulness promotes resilience, thereby increasing life satisfaction. Those who regularly engage in mindfulness better cope with their emotions without becoming overwhelmed. Instead of ruminating over worries, individuals who practice mindfulness are able to remain objective and grounded without getting carried away into their negative thoughts. This is why mindfulness has been found to be especially effective for relieving anxiety and depression symptoms.

2 Simple Mindfulness Exercises

  1. Mindful Breathing: Sit down in a quiet place, free of distractions. While in a comfortable position, take a deep inhale, focusing on the flow your breath. Attune to your lungs as they expand during inhale and compress during exhale. Continue focusing on your breathing. With each exhale, breathe out your worries and concerns. If you become distracted by your thoughts, gently escort your attention back to your breathing. Continue this mindful breathing exercise for 5 minutes. At the conclusion, focus on how you feel physically and emotionally. You may want to incorporate this exercise into your routine every day for 10 minutes to feel the long lasting benefits of mindfulness. 
  2. Body Awareness: During this exercise, you will scan the different parts of your body, becoming more aware of the sensations in your body. You can practice this exercise while laying down or sitting comfortably. Start by focusing on your forehead and notice any sensations, including the weight, pulses, and any tension. See if you can just notice these sensations without become distracted by them. You may even say to yourself, “Ah, there’s tingling on my forehead.” The idea is to foster a gentle acceptance of your experience. After becoming aware of your forehead, go down to your eyes, nose, lips, and then down to your neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, and then continue to your back, abdomen, buttocks, thighs, knees, calves, ankles, feet and finally the toes. With each part of your body, kindly bring attention to that area, notice any sensations with gentle curiosity. Try not to engage in too much judgment or focus on any tension. You are simply noticing and become more aware of your present state. Hopefully, at the conclusion of this exercise, you will feel relaxed and in tune with your experience-maybe you will be even a little more resilient.