“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. His writings have made mindfulness a buzzword in self-help titles, blogs, magazines, and on TV.
There are smartphone apps designed to guide meditation, and specific notepads tailor made to encourage mindful thinking. But just why is it important?
Well, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
When we live our lives with mindfulness, we are able to step out of our current state and observe the ebb and flow of our emotions, thoughts, and feelings.
The practice of meditation allows us to gain control of the emotions that have the tendency to sweep us away – anger, frustration, distress, and so on.
Mindfulness is not just being heralded by authors like Jon Kabat-Zinn, but by scientific researchers and medical professionals, as a mental exercise with benefits that range from improved focus and happiness to greater self-awareness and memory.
While these are the most talked about consequences, there are several other interesting benefits of mindfulness that are often overlooked. Keep reading to find out 3 powerful benefits of mindfulness that you probably haven’t heard about…
1. Cultivating Courage
Fear often comes from a little voice inside our own head, spouting off all of the ways something can go wrong.
When we heed this negative inner voice, we find ourselves shying away from risks, become loss-averse, and missing out on fun and positive experiences. We look at other people who are enjoying life and taking new chances and wonder – what makes them so different to me?
This tendency to overthink can really affect our daily lives and our mental health. It can cause us to miss out on experiences that we later regret, or prevent us from moving forwards and fulfilling our potential at work or something else that we enjoy. It can have a devastating effect on romantic relationships or friendships, as the people who care about us can’t understand why we always think the worst.
Bringing mindfulness into the picture gives you the ability to focus on the present moment without fear of the future. Living in the now allows you to experience life – with all of its opportunities and joyful uncertainties – without being encircled by a crowd of 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.
After all, who wants a boring, predictable life? Embrace the courage that living life mindfully brings, and seize the opportunities and experiences that come your way.
Live your life without regret!
…and remember, just because something doesn’t serve you, it doesn’t mean you won’t learn from it.
2. Getting to sleep
Practicing mindful meditation helps with your energy levels in two very different ways.
First, introverts are actually said to gather energy from spending time alone and engaged with their own thoughts. Though this might be counter-productive when one wants to get to sleep, it’s good news for those who like to recharge their batteries at the weekend by indulging in some simple acts of self-care.
Second, all too often we go to bed with work on our mind, and stress about what will happen the next day. This kind of worry delays sleep and prevents us from feeling properly rested. In fact, some 85% of workers in the United States admit to regularly losing sleep due to work-related stress.
Bedtime is the time of the day that it is most important that we have a clear and relaxed mind.
Research shows that even a short period of mindfulness meditation can help calm our hyperactive minds and improve our sleep. Apps like Aura, Calm, and Headspace all provide guided meditation to facilitate relaxation and encourage sleep.
The same research study shows that in as little as two weeks, someone who starts practicing meditation can improve his or her sleep quality and sleep duration. With this kind of turn-around there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a try!
It is pretty much inevitable in life, for every body: sometimes we fail and make mistakes.
But it’s how we frame our failures that defines how we pick ourselves back up after them, and in turn how we then move on with our lives.
Having little awareness of ourselves, our emotions, and our coping mechanisms leaves us prone to negative reactions like regret and self-doubt. If we use mindfulness as a tool to learn these things, we can start to reconstruct our views in a more positive light.
Whenever it was that they started to manifest, the fundamental beliefs you have about your intelligence and your ability to bounce back from mistakes is directly related to how your brain responds to making mistakes. The good news is, it is possible to unlearn this response.
Mindfulness allows to think about mistakes differently – not as a failure that encourages self-doubt or anger, but as a unique opportunity to learn something new about yourself.
Becoming aware of ourselves, where we are, and what we’re doing, opens us up to learning more about personality traits we might not have previously encountered – including, how we cope under pressure, and the scope of our potential to achieve great things.
Next time you make a mistake, slow down, become aware of what has happened, and take the opportunity to find out what it is possible to learn from that mistake. Then think about all of the other (often better) ways you can respond to similar situations in the future in a more effective way.
As soon as you start using your mistakes as an opportunity for growth, there’s no stopping you.
When did you begin your journey to a more mindful way of life, or are you inspired to do so today? 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?
Share it with us in the comments and encourage one another today.