We live in an increasingly busy world where our minds are working a mile a minute pretty much all day long. In a rush to accomplish your daily errands and necessary tasks, you’ll often find yourself losing your connection with the present moment and detaching from what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Did you notice whether you felt refreshed and well-rested this morning? Or that the sky was clear on your way to work? This is what mindfulness is all about.
Mindfulness is the practice of staying grounded and purposely focusing your attention on the present moment by accepting the current situation for what it is, without judgment. Thanks to modern research, this ancient, Buddhist practice has been brought into mainstream medicine, demonstrating the physical and psychological benefits that we can gain by practicing mindfulness.
In fact, incorporating mindfulness meditation in our busy lives can be the key to personal and professional success, here’s how.
Mindfulness decreases stress
When you think of stress, work is probably the first thing that comes to mind. From the long hours to the overload of projects and the pressure of deadlines, it’s easy to see how stress can hit a workplace. Not only does stress take a toll on your emotional and physical wellbeing at work, but the toxic, negative energy that comes with it can make its way to your home life, impeding your personal life as well as your professional one. One way to curb stress without dropping your performance at work is by making mindful meditation a habit.
This can be as simple as closing your eyes and staying silent for a few minutes each day. Listening to relaxing music, ASMR, white noise, and nature sounds have also been proven effective music for meditation practice. Listening to these in the morning before you get to work, will give you a better start for the day. Neuroscientists show that this daily practice of mindfulness can boost the areas of the brain responsible for attention regulation at the workplace.
When we constantly jump back and forth between tasks in an attempt to get all the work done in time, our quality of work can suffer, possibly leading to complete burnout. By practicing mindfulness and simply staying grounded in the present moment, we can train ourselves to become more focused, consequently becoming more efficient and productive. Moreover, studies show that present-moment awareness can facilitate an appropriate, adaptive response to daily stressors both in our personal and professional lives.
Other stress-reducing benefits that you can reap from mindful thinking include increased emotional stability and impulse control, higher brain functioning, lowered heart rate and blood pressure, improved clarity of thinking and perception, and lowered anxiety levels. Additionally, the regular practice of mindfulness has the potential to revitalize one’s purpose and foster positive interpersonal communication and relationships both inside and outside the workplace.
It promotes creative and flexible thinking
Creativity is key to most jobs. When you practice mindful meditation, even if it’s just a couple of minutes of focusing on your breathing, your attention strays away from all the distracting and distressing thoughts and your focus becomes more centered. After you unwind and unplug, your thinking will shift to a more focused perspective, leaving your brain to do the work without interruption and opening the doors for new ideas to emerge.
When we’re stuck in fixed, rigid patterns of thinking, we become more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and depression. Flexible thinking and the ability to be self-observant are other benefits that mindfulness can help you acquire. New neurological research has found that the practice of mindfulness disconnects certain pathways in the brain formed from previous, irrelevant learning and allows us to take in new input from the present moment.
Mindfulness improves psychological well-being
Besides reducing stress and promoting creative thinking, mindfulness can also provide a wide array of psychological benefits as a large body of research shows that mindfulness can help people cope with emotional pain, anxiety, and depression that can accompany traumatic or distressing events.
For instance, those who suffer from drug addiction are, at heart, suffering from psychological cravings for a substance that relieves them temporarily from their psychological torment. By helping addicts better understand and tolerate their cravings, mindful thinking can be an effective supplement in the treatment of addiction. The same is true for anyone suffering from depression or any obsessive or self-destructive behavior.
One of the ways in which mindfulness can help treat anxiety and depression is through enhancing the person’s ability to regulate their emotions and control their negative thoughts. It offers them the tools needed to step back from intense, unpleasant thoughts and emotions, identify them, and accept them instead of denying or fighting them. This allows mindful thinkers to improve their emotional stability, leading to better coping and management of anxiety and depression.
It improves our general health
Our psychological well-being can, in turn, affect our physical health and, in that sense, mindfulness can also impact our general physical wellbeing. For instance, research suggests that mindfulness encourages people to be more responsible and sensible when it comes to their health and wellbeing, where mindful thinkers were reported to be more likely to get regular check-ups, be physically active, use seat belts, and avoid nicotine and alcohol than unmindful thinkers.
Additionally, other studies on mindfulness and health show that meditative practice can be directly linked to improved cardiovascular health through more physical activity, lower blood pressure, and a reduced incidence of smoking.
Caught up in our thoughts, it’s easy to stop noticing the world around us to the point where we end up living in our heads, entirely losing our connection to the universe. When you’re too caught up in your own thoughts, they can overcloud your emotions and affect your actions without you even knowing. But as you can see, mindfulness can help you reconnect with your body, your feelings, and your thoughts. This can be as simple as the feel of a banister as you walk upstairs or as tricky as keeping the stress of work in check. By incorporating the practice of mindful meditation in your daily life, you stand to gain a lot of benefits on personal, professional, psychological, and spiritual levels.