“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are
Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of the leading pioneers in bringing the practice of mindfulness through meditation into mainstream medicine. With meditation, you can step out of your current state and observe your flowing emotions, thoughts, and feelings. This practice will allow you to better gain control of the emotions that have the tendency to sweep you away.
Mindfulness is being heralded, by not only Jon but many researchers and professors of medicine, as a mental exercise with benefits ranging from improved focus and happiness to greater self-awareness and memory.
While these things are great, there are several other interesting benefits of mindfulness that are often overlooked…
1. Cultivating Courage
Fear often comes from a little voice in our head that spouts all of the ways something can go wrong; in doing so we shy away from risks, become loss-averse, and miss out on fun and positive experiences.
This tendency to overthink can really affect our daily lives and cause us to miss out on experiences, which we may later regret. Bring mindfulness into the picture, and you will have the ability to focus on the present moment which will allow you to see the experience without flooding it with the what-ifs.
Being mindful happens when you stop letting your negative thoughts hold you back and you gain the courage to recognize your fears and act anyway. Who wants a boring, predictable life?
2. Getting to sleep
There are two ways mindfulness helps in this regard: Introverts are said to garner energy from being alone and engaged with their own thoughts, which is counter-productive when one wants to get to sleep. Second, too often we go to bed with work on our mind or stress about the next day which delays sleep — in fact, 85 percent of U.S. workers lose sleep due to work-related stress.
Bedtime is one of the most important times of the day that we should have a clear and relaxed mind. Research shows even a short period of mindfulness meditation can help calm our hyperactive minds and improve our sleep.
The same research study shows that just in a two-week period, a beginner meditator can improve his/her sleep quality and sleep duration. With this kind of turn-around there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a try!
Sometimes we fail and make mistakes, but it’s how we frame these times of failure that defines how we pick ourselves up. With little awareness we are prone to resorting to regret and self-doubt, but if we use mindfulness to become more aware of our thoughts, we can start to reconstruct our views more positively.
The beliefs you have about intelligence and your ability to bounce back from mistakes is directly related to how your brain responds to making mistakes. Mindfulness allows to think about mistakes differently — as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself.
Next time you make a mistake, slow down, take notice of what has happened, and find what you can learn from that mistake to respond in a more effective way in the future. Once you can begin using your mistakes as an opportunity for growth, there’s no doubt you’ve become a mindfulness expert!
When did you begin your journey to a more mindful way of life? Do you have a personal experience where the benefits of mindfulness were clear, giving you the ability to turn a negative situation into a positive one?