Take a minute, right now, to just sit and appreciate the moment you are in. Pay attention to the temperature and quality of the air, the sounds you can hear, the position of your body, and the act of reading this article, all without judgment. That, essentially, is mindfulness. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines mindfulness as “a moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience without judgment.”
Most of us have lots of demands on our time every day, constantly juggling a wide range of tasks involved in taking care of our jobs, our kids, our spouses, our houses and yards, our family and friends, our community commitments, and more. There are times when the stress of all that can be very overwhelming. Just as acupuncture is a great way to deal with stress, mindfulness is another.
Mindfulness has its roots in a variety of religious practices from Hinduism to Christianity. But it’s not specifically a religious practice. Instead, the practice is more akin to meditation. And, like meditation, mindfulness can have profound positive physical and mental impact on our health. The practice can help increase a sense of well-being and help improve our calmness, concentration, and clarity. Specifically, according to scientific research, mindfulness can have these benefits:
1 Get You Out of Your Head
Overthinking can sometimes be crippling. Not only can it lead to the inability to make a decision, but it can also decrease our sense of self-worth if that overthinking also includes negative thoughts. But studies have shown that mindfulness can decrease the amount of time we spend ruminating. In one study, after a mindfulness retreat, participants showed fewer depressive symptoms, better working memory, and an increased ability to give attention to the task at hand compared to a control group.
2 Reduced Stress
One of the negative effects of stress, and there are many, is that it puts our brain in an artificial and constant fight-or-flight state by enlarging the amygdala. But studies have shown that practicing mindfulness actually has the ability to shrink the amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates our fight-or-flight responses. And, like acupuncture for stress relief, studies have shown that mindfulness can lower the stress hormone cortisol.
3 Increased Focus
A big part of focus is the ability to filter out distracting information. Well, mindfulness meditation has been shown in studies to improve our ability to filter and to increase our ability to pay attention. Mindfulness meditation also increases our control of our inhibitions, our processing speed, and decrease the number of errors we make.
The practitioners at Earley Wellness Group would be happy to talk to you about your options for reducing stress in your life, including acupuncture, meditation, and mindfulness. Make an appointment today to get started.