Mindfulness, put simply, is the practice of being in the moment. So often our daily lives are filled with conflicting emotions and agendas, with our thoughts flitting between our current activity, past actions, and future plans and priorities. Practicing mindfulness helps us to focus solely on the current moment and to be centered and relaxed at that moment. There are many guides available for the practice of mindfulness in our daily lives. But why should we practice mindfulness? What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness for health?
Research has shown that practicing mindfulness for health can provide numerous benefits not only for our emotional and mental health and wellbeing but also for physical health.
The practice of mindfulness can improve overall health. A long-term study of college students showed improvements in eating habits, quality of sleep and general physical health associated with the practice of mindfulness over an extended period of time. Other studies indicate that mindfulness can assist with the management of symptoms in cancer patients.
There is also evidence that the practice of mindfulness provides health benefits as we age. These include improved outcomes in the treatment of heart disease and improvements in cognitive functions such as memory and concentration in elderly patients.
The regular practice of mindfulness can bring improvement in levels of stress and anxiety and depression. Often, our thought patterns act to increase anxiety and stress, reduce self-confidence and exacerbate depression. By using appropriate mindfulness exercises it is possible to reduce rumination and the spiral of negative thought patterns associated with stress and anxiety. A reduction in stress and anxiety leads not only to improvements in mental and emotional well-being but also to physical benefits such as reduced blood pressure.
With so many benefits from such a simple practice, why not practice mindfulness for health?