I apologize for the crude title, but it’s the only way to draw more attention to the magic behind mindfulness.
As a yoga teacher, I believe in the wellness of the whole individual. This wholeness includes one’s body, spirit (energy), and mind. We are taught that mindfulness encompasses the totality of yoga practices on and off the mat with one goal in mind - bringing you to the present moment. Through this continual recentering towards the present - whether that be toward the breath, body or the moment - you increase your ability to cultivate peace and ease in your life.
This continual recentering of oneself toward the present is mindfulness. To add, modern-day science defines mindfulness as “a mental mode characterized by full attention to present-moment experience without judgment, elaboration, or emotional reactivity.”
Research has been conducted by neuroscientists and psychologists wherein study after study, mindfulness proves that it can help:
I go on to explain in further detail the findings or deductions of each of these studies.
Meditation group participants who meditated, or participated in daily mindfulness daily exercises showed an increase of gray-matter in their hippocampus.
“The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.”
This study’s findings: “indicate that mindfulness is associated with intrinsic neural activity and that changes in resting amygdala activity could be a potential mechanism by which mindfulness-based depression treatments elicit therapeutic improvement.”
The amygdala is the space in the brain responsible for our emotions. So, when we are on high-alert, or hyper-functioning, our amygdala is exhausted. Our emotions will reflect that exhaustion. If we give our amygdala a rest, by giving our puppy-dog mind a rest, our emotions will reflect this rest.
WMC is, simply put, being able to remember things that are important to the execution of a goal between intrusive thoughts, or external distractions.
In a randomized controlled investigation, researchers examined whether a 2-week mindfulness-training course would decrease mind wandering and improve cognitive performance in college students. It did!
“Our results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide reaching consequences.”
“Research shows that emotions are often experienced first in the body before they are recognized by the conscious mind.”
Another way that mindfulness helps with emotional self-regulation is that it helps us increase the gap between stimulus and response. Stimulus would be a visceral reaction (e.g. increased heartbeat, holding the breath, tightening of the chest) you have to a thought, person, place or thing. The response is how we respond when we feel the reaction in our bodies (e.g fight, flight, freeze, fawn).
These are just a few ways that mindfulness has been proven to positively affect one’s well being. Whatever inspires you to begin your mindfulness practice, you can begin right now.
We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. Whatever forms of meditation you practice, the most important point is to apply mindfulness continuously, and make a sustained effort. - Dalai Lama