Mindfulness? But Why?
Welcome back, everyone! In my last post, “No, Really. What Is Mindfulness??”, I explained the meaning of mindfulness. If you have not read that post, I encourage you to check it out. This week we are going to be talking about the benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation, are not aimless. One of the main purposes of mindfulness is to help the individual become more aware of themselves and act with intent. There have been many proven benefits of mindfulness, namely reduced stress and enhanced quality of life. I will also share with you the personal experiences I’ve had with mindfulness throughout the week. Spoiler alert: It was not easy.
Why should you practice mindfulness? Mindfulness has resulted in increased productivity, less stress, and better management of emotions, just to name a few. Don’t believe me? In a study conducted by Geisler, et al, it is proven that “participants in the mindfulness condition were significantly less plagued by distracting evaluative thoughts. Also, as hypothesized, they experienced significantly less negative affect than participants in the relaxation condition.” (863). Mindful practices help decrease distracting thoughts and control negative emotions, even more so than regular relaxation practices. Last week, I decided to start my mindfulness journey and see where it would lead me. Because I have not had any meditation experience previously, I chose two simple mindful practices that I felt comfortable with. The first exercise is conducted in the morning. After you wake up, you are to take several deep breaths, then state your intentions for the day. Afterward, you are supposed to periodically check in with yourself and the status of your objectives. The second exercise is conducted during mealtimes. Whenever you think about making yourself some food, you are to stop and assess how hungry you are by analyzing certain factors (empty feeling, stomach growling, shakiness, etc.) When you are eating, you are to stop periodically, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and determine whether you are satisfied.
When I researched these exercises, I could quickly see the possible benefits, especially with the second exercise. I don’t even want to share how many times I go to the kitchen, just because of boredom. Let me recap my experience for you. Days 1-3 were rocky, at best. I was inconsistent, lacked follow through, and when it came to mealtimes, I was sometimes flat out ignoring my analyses. Days 4-7 ran much smoother. After I spoke my morning intentions, I made sure to follow up throughout the day and try to achieve my goals. It took some time, also some pep talks in the mirror, but when it came to meals, I started to make decisions based on my assessments. Turns out, I didn’t really need those honey buns at 11:30 pm.
I don’t think I’ve been doing my exercises consistently enough to see major results, but I will share some things that I’ve noticed. I have found more reasons to be proud of myself by achieving those morning objectives. It’s a good feeling. The mealtime exercise is not easy. Honestly, it’s not fun either, but it has given me plenty of opportunities to fill that time with something productive. You could even use that newfound time to work out. Did I use that time to work out? No, but you could. Be better than me.
Leave a comment and let me know if mindfulness is something you might be interested in. If you are a beginner like me, let me know how your journey is going.
See you next time. References Geisler, Fay C. M., et al. “The Benefits of a Mindfulness Exercise in a Performance Situation.” Psychological Reports, vol. 121, no. 5, Oct. 2018, pp. 853–876.