Reason 1: Calms the Monkey Mind
Monkey Mind is a term which describes the constant stream of thoughts in the undisciplined mind. When left unattended the mind dwells on stressful and negative thoughts about the past and the future. It’s the constant replay of painful experiences that have already happened or the projection of the worst-case-scenarios onto our future. Mindfulness breaks that cycle, providing us welcome relief from our negative, unproductive and habitual thought patterns – providing us a sense of freedom.
Reason 2 - Rewires the Brain
Mindfulness practices have been shown to positively “alter the structural and neural patterns in the brain thus strengthen the brain regions that are associated with heightened sensory processing and empathetic response. “This means that when you regularly practice some form of mindfulness you are literally growing the area of the brain that’s responsible for learning and memory (hippocampus) while reducing the fear center of the brain (amygdala). Research shows that non-judgmental moment to moment awareness slows shrinkage of the part of the brain responsible for the memory loss associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. You literally rewire for a healthier, steadier, calmer mind.
Reason 3 - Allows the Mind and Body to Deeply Relax
Mindfulness calms our nervous system, eliciting the relaxation response. Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer in the mindfulness movement, defines the relaxation response “as a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress…the opposite of the fight or flight response”. It is “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.”
Numerous studies on the relaxation response have highlighted the following short-term benefits to our nervous system:
- lower blood pressure
- improved blood circulation
- lower heart rate
- less perspiration
- slower respiratory rate
- deeper relaxation
Reason 4 - Deepens and Enhances our Connection with Others
Mindfulness, paying attention on purpose, being fully present, and without judgment, can help us break out of the negative knee-jerk reactions we bring into our relationships. Mindfulness helps us to better manage our body’s reactions, regulate emotions and calm fears and anxieties. It has been shown to promote empathy and compassion. All key ingredients for deepening and enhancing relationships.
With better wiring in place, instead of picking a fight with your spouse after a stressful workday, you have a fruitful conversation about an important issue. Instead of your entire body shaking when your partner makes a snarky remark — and spewing below-the-belt slurs — you respond calmly. Your emotions no longer hijack you.
Reason 5 - Allows Us to Make Better Decisions
Mindfulness enables us to make wise choices. When our minds are lost in stressful thought patterns, it's hard to see through the mental chatter. As a result, we get confused and become reactive, not reflective. This makes it more likely that we'll respond to others unskillfully, perhaps saying something we'll later regret. By contrast, if we've learned to practice mindfulness in the midst of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences, we're much more likely to catch ourselves before we speak or act poorly.
We can stop, take a conscious breath or two, and then choose a skillful and healthy way to respond to people and situations. Our overall quality of life is improved when we practice some form of mindfulness. It’s an effective, low cost, side effect-free practice that has been shown to:
- Reduce stress, anxiety and depression
- Boost overall feelings of well-being
- Lessen chronic pain
- Effectively treatment insomnia
- Enhances work and personal satisfaction
- Decreases postpartum depression
- Support weight loss goals
- Aids in smoking cessation
Lots of us think about trying mindfulness meditation, but it can be hard to know where to begin. We’ll show you how to start, feel better, reduce your stress, and enjoy your life a little more.