With blog creation comes the glorified responsibility of thematic decision-making. No blog is complete, nor powerful in the least without a captivating, lest note-worthy topic. After spending substantial time practicing yoga within the past few months, I have grown using its benefits. I found that my body was changing and improving and even at times, my mind was allowing itself peace as well. But with yoga, there is another component – a nutritious massage to the soul. While I don’t condone the religious aspect of yoga, I do praise its integration of spirituality, truly seeking the power of peace and depth into one’s faith.
Being a Christian is my greatest attribute. I enjoy being a part of the beautiful faith! And though some might argue that yoga is counter-intuitive to our faith, I might slightly disagree. It has become a vehicle of serenity for me, where I have found more intimate time with God and I have reached him on a physical level, rather than just sitting to pray. I’m activating my body in tune with my soul to create a beautiful space where I can connect with Him – the definition of mindfulness.
Mindfulness, in its most inherent qualities, is a gateway to awareness. It is the capacity to know the surroundings of the self, physically and spiritually. It draws the mind into the present – focusing on the greatest moment of all time, the present one. Yoga doctrine upholds this enticing concept to the highest degree, but more so, it highlights the power of acceptance, the acknowledgement of the moment with no judgment to be placed.
Though I’m no advocate for this erupting societal norm of hyper intolerance, I do support the notion of being within the moment. So, the Extremely Imperative and Inevitable Crusade for Tolerance aside…I do find mindfulness stimulating to the brain as it pulls focus to the moment and pushes away stress and/or external pressures.
Some of the benefits of mindfulness have been emphasized by scholars and non-scholars alike. There is great power that comes with practicing mindfulness, so much so that it actually improves many aspects of one’s life. Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of MBSR, lists them as follows:
- Mindfulness is good for our bodies: A seminal study found that, after just eight weeks of training, practicing mindfulness meditation boosts our immune system’s ability to fight off illness.
- Mindfulness is good for our minds: Several studies have found that mindfulness increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and stress. Indeed, at least one study suggests it may be as good as antidepressants in fighting depression and preventing relapse.
- Mindfulness changes our brains: Research has found that it increases density of gray matter in brain regions linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.
- Mindfulness helps us focus: Studies suggest that mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and improves our memory and attention skills.
- Mindfulness fosters compassion and altruism: Research suggests mindfulness training makes us more likely to help someone in need and increases activity in neural networks involved in understanding the suffering of others and regulating emotions. Evidence suggests it might boost self-compassion as well.
- Mindfulness enhances relationships: Research suggests mindfulness training makes couples more satisfied with their relationship, makes each partner feel more optimistic and relaxed, and makes them feel more accepting of and closer to one another.
- Mindfulness is good for parents and parents-to-be: Studies suggest it may reduce pregnancy-related anxiety, stress, and depression in expectant parents. Parents who practice mindfulnessreport being happier with their parenting skills and their relationship with their kids, and their kids were found to have better social skills.
- Mindfulness helps schools: There’s scientific evidence that teaching mindfulness in the classroom reduces behavior problems and aggression among students, and improves their happiness levels and ability to pay attention. Teachers trained in mindfulness also show lower blood pressure, less negative emotion and symptoms of depression, and greater compassion and empathy.
- Mindfulness helps health care professionals cope with stress, connect with their patients, and improve their general quality of life. It also helps mental health professionals by reducing negative emotions and anxiety, and increasing their positive emotions and feelings of self-compassion.
- Mindfulness helps prisons: Evidence suggests mindfulness reduces anger, hostility, and mood disturbances among prisoners by increasing their awareness of their thoughts and emotions, helping with their rehabilitation and reintegration.
- Mindfulness helps veterans: Studies suggest it can reduce the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath of war.
- Mindfulness fights obesity: Practicing “mindful eating” encourages healthier eating habits, helps people lose weight, and helps them savor the food they do eat.
Its benefits could seem soft in terms of content – “make you feel better” type answers. But these benefits transcend from the qualitative to quantitative quite fast. And though the scientific studies behind it fascinates me, I don’t have time nor patience to write it here.
To better understand the impact of mindfulness, I want to provide some valuable resources below.
- This source, A 3-Minute Body Scan Meditation to Cultivate Mindfulness, was found through Mindful.com.
- A little on the history and its connections to modern mindfulness, with some added yoga poses to help draw mindfulness: Bring More Mindfulness Onto the Mat
And now since I’m into infographics as of late, here are a few to top of this topic!