In a previous post, we introduced you to the concept of mindfulness. In today’s blog, we’ll outline some of the health benefits of regularly practicing mindfulness meditation. We’ve previously explored the health benefits of yoga, but this post will focus exclusively on the health benefits of mindfulness. If you’re interested in taking up yoga and learning to be more mindful in your daily life, contact a member of Wilmington Yoga Center for more information!
As we noted in our previous post, the term “mindfulness” typically refers to the practice of attending to the sensations and experiences of the present moment without judgment or active thinking. Several recent studies have shown that regularly practicing mindfulness meditation can greatly reduce anxiety and stress. A 2010 study published in Emotion, for instance, found that participants in an eight-week mindfulness training program experienced lower levels of depression and anxiety than the control group. Long-term mindfulness practitioners report low levels of anxiety and future-oriented worrying, and many of these practitioners have noticeable changes in the areas of the brain responsible for reacting to stressful situations.
You may not be surprised to learn that regularly practicing mindfulness will help you become more focused in your daily life. Consistently taking the time to focus on your breathing and moment-to-moment experiences reduces your brain’s tendency to wander and become distracted. In fact, a 2009 study comparing two distinct groups, one composed of people experienced with mindfulness meditation, and another group composed of people with no mindfulness training, produced some surprising results. Researchers found that the group experienced with mindfulness training outperformed the group without meditation experience on every metric used to measure attention.
Researchers have found that mindfulness training can benefit your working memory. A 2013 study found that just two weeks of mindfulness training significantly benefited students preparing to take the GRE test. Mindfulness training improved the students’ ability to recall information as well as their ability to focus on a single task without becoming distracted by thoughts or noises in the environment. Mindfulness training is a valuable asset, especially for students and workers who find themselves easily distracted throughout the day.
Several recent studies have shown that mindfulness can be beneficial for sufferers of chronic pain. None of us can avoid pain, but mindfulness training can show you how to separate the sensation of pain from the emotional response of suffering. It might seem counterintuitive that pain reduction can be achieved through paying more attention to the physical sensations of pain, but it turns out that focusing on the sensations themselves can alleviate the rumination and thoughts about the pain that typically make the situation worse. Of course, mindfulness can’t fully replace traditional pain management strategies, but it can play a valuable role in an effective pain management arsenal.
If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness, our certified yoga instructors at Wilmington Yoga Center can help! We offer yoga courses for beginners and advanced students, and we’re currently offering 30 days of unlimited yoga to newcomers – visit our Wilmington and Leland locations today!