Thursday, March 2, 2017

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Mindfulness and How Can It Help

be mindfulMindfulness originated as a Buddhist meditation practice and has been around for thousands of years. It has received increased attention from mental health professionals in recent years. In fact, some counselors and psychologists are incorporating aspects of mindfulness into their treatment for a variety of mental health concerns. Mindfulness-based approaches are also popular for stress management and improving one's ability to cope with a variety of challenging situations. If you’ve heard the term “mindfulness,” you may have wondered what it is and why it has become so popular.

What is Mindfulness?

According to Dr. Jeff Brantley at the University of California Center for Mindfulness,
(Mindfulness) is a quality, which human beings already have, but they have usually not been advised that they have it, that it is valuable, or that it can be cultivated. Mindfulness is the awareness that is not thinking but which is aware of thinking, as well as aware of each of the other ways we experience the sensory world, i.e., seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling through the body.
How might this be helpful as a component of counseling? Dr. Brantley goes on to describe some of the benefits of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is non-judgmental, open-hearted, friendly, and inviting of whatever arises in awareness. It is cultivated by paying attention on purpose, deeply, and without judgment to whatever arises in the present moment, either inside or outside of us. By intentionally practicing mindfulness, deliberately paying more careful moment-to-moment attention, individuals can live more fully and less on ‘automatic pilot,’ thus, being more present for their own lives.

Why Practice Mindfulness?

The research on mindfulness has been quite promising. Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness, even for a few weeks, is linked to a variety of psychological, physical, and social benefits.

Drs. Daphne Davis and Jeffrey Hayes compiled this list of the benefits of mindfulness:
  • Reduced rumination
  • Stress reduction
  • Boosts in working memory
  • Improved focus and ability to suppress distracting stimuli 
  • Less emotional reactivity
  • More cognitive flexibility
  • Increased relationship satisfaction
  • Enhanced self-insight, morality, and intuition
  • Increased immune functioning
  • Reduction in psychological distress
  • Increased information processing speed

Mindfulness Resources

Ready to give mindfulness a try? Here are some free online resources to get started:

Mindfulness Apps

These free mindfulness apps are another easy way to get started and can be downloaded from the app store on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Stop, Breath, & Think (available for iPhone and Android)
  • Calm (available for iPhone and Android)
  • Mindfulness Training App (available for iPhone)
  • Pacifica (available for iPhone and Android)
  • Mindfulness (available for iPhone and Android)
- Post contributed by Niki Knight -