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Think Mindful Meditation Isn’t For You? 10 Ways it can Change Your Life! - The Classy Housewife

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Home Health Think Mindful Meditation Isn’t For You? 10 Ways it can Change Your...

Think Mindful Meditation Isn’t For You? 10 Ways it can Change Your Life!

The Power of Awareness

Although the practice of mindful meditation or mindful awareness is thousands of years old, interest has been exploding in recent years. The field of neuroscience is rigorously studying the practice and effects of mindful mediation, and the news is overwhelmingly positive: There are proven benefits for countless areas of our lives, and in fact over time mindful awareness rewires and changes the brain’s structure to literally transform the way we think. And it’s much easier than you might think.

Mindful awareness can be thought of as paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, non-judgment about our thoughts, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. There are many ways to incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives, including meditation, yoga, art, time spent in nature, and visual imagery. Though it’s simple to get started and great for anyone regardless of age or background, it requires systematic and regular practice to hone the skill and see the greatest benefits.

Learning to live in a state of “mindful awareness” has positive, proven effects. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. It leads to actual physical changes to the brain. The brain’s ability to control decision-making, empathy, and the regulation of emotions are all improved. Although it was long-believed that the brain stopped growing or changing once we hit adulthood, we now know that regular meditation practice leads to neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change in both structure and function. The best part? Those who practice regular meditation develop the ability to control how they think and react. Research has shown that 40 minutes a day of meditation actually increases the brain’s gray matter, indicating that the brain’s aging process slows down.
  2. It improves focus. Cognitive functions, including concentration, focus, and memory all see great improvement with regular practice. Studies also show that meditating increases alertness and can even help with ADHD.
  3. It increases sense of well-being. Practicing mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life, making it easier to enjoy life’s pleasures as they occur. We’re able to become more fully engaged in activities and are better able to deal with adverse events. By living mindfully, we are less likely to get caught up in worries about the past or anxiety about the future, have fewer concerns related to success and self-esteem, and we form deeper connections with others.
  4. It improves sleep. Mindful awareness can help one fall asleep faster and have more restful sleep. Practicing mindfulness meditation during the day helps by reducing negative thoughts, decreasing the chance that those thoughts will keep us up at night. There are a variety of meditations that one can practice at bedtime to improve sleep.
  5. It significantly reduces stress. Beyond helping us feel less stressed, meditation lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood. Further, mindfulness meditation training has been shown to help handle and recover from even the most stressful events. Early studies also point to potential but significant pain-relieving benefits in which meditation beat morphine in reducing pain and unpleasantness.
  6. It can help with depression. Mindfulness, including Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has been shown in numerous studies worldwide to have profound effects on reducing depression, even for those who have been depressed several times in the past. The simplest explanation is that it works in part by redirecting thought patterns, with the goal of eventually eliminating the negative self-talk that feeds depression. Mindfulness training has also been shown to reduce depression and anxiety specifically among teens.
  7. It improves relationships. Mindfulness increases the compassion we have for ourselves and others. Multiple studies have shown a strong correlation between mindfulness practice in couples and an enhanced relationship. Couples in these studies have shown significant improvements in closeness, acceptance of one another, autonomy, and general satisfaction with their relationship. Other research has shown a link between mindfulness and improved communication between romantic partners. Mindfulness also leads to improvements in all of our relationships, including parent-child relationships, friendships, professional relationships, and can even change how we perceive strangers.
  8. It improves critical health markers. Regular meditation lowers blood pressure and boosts immunity, reduces harmful inflammation, and has been shown to reduce the length and severity of colds. One study looked at patients who suffered from high blood pressure while they followed a meditation-based relaxation program for three months. The results? Significant improvements in 40 of the 60 patients, many of whom were able to decrease their blood pressure medication.
  9. It’s been shown to decrease feelings of loneliness. In an 8-week study at Carnegie Mellon University, adults between the ages of 55-80 were assessed for loneliness factors at the beginning and end of an 8-week period using an established loneliness scale, and also provided blood samples. They then attended weekly 2-hour training sessions and one day-long training in mindful meditation, and were also asked to practice for 30 minutes each day. Compared to the control group, results indicated that mindfulness training decreased feelings of loneliness and, further, blood samples showed decreased inflammatory markers, suggesting that mindful meditation may reduce the risk for inflammatory diseases.
  10. It reduces doctor visits and may increase life expectancy. Most people who practice mindful meditation find that they make fewer unplanned visits to the doctor and require fewer procedures. Additionally, anti-aging research has found that meditators have significantly higher activity of the enzyme that is linked to protecting chromosomes, boosting our chances of living longer.

YOU CAN START TODAY

There are many great resources available online to guide anyone from beginners through regular practitioners, including some great mobile apps and tools that allow you to simply relax, close your eyes, and have someone “guide” you through the process. A great app for beginners is Get Some Headspace, which includes some short but excellent videos that set the stage for understanding mindful awareness in a unique and interesting way and provides 10 days of 10-minute guided meditations, with the ability to sign up to receive daily guided meditations beyond the 10 days. The Cleveland Clinic also offers a mobile app that explains mindful meditation and provides several stress-reduction meditations. A search of mindfulness in the App Store provides several options for guided meditation applications, most of which are free.

There are many ways to practice mindful awareness; the key is consistency. However you enter the practice of mindfulness, start by practicing at least 5-10 minutes each day in order to build the skill and reap its many benefits.

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