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Mindfulness is, in essence, awareness. Although the definition can be quite simple, for different people, it can mean different things. What is missing in the definition however, is the fact that mindfulness entails the acceptance of the current state of things without necessarily placing some form of emotional value to the feelings, situations, and thoughts of the moment. Strongly anchored in the Buddhist practice of mind-body harmony, mindfulness requires individuals to learn to maintain awareness of the present moment. Sprout Health Group uses mindfulness meditation to help individuals gain significantly greater control of their body and mind. This helps them develop conscious awareness of their own thoughts, physical sensations, feelings or emotions, and the physical environment.

How Does Mindfulness Work?

meditationMindfulness entails training the mind to focus on the present – what you feel, what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you are thinking of, and everything else that exists in the present time. This means the individual must not look back into his past nor look well ahead into the future. The ideal is for the individual to train his mind to focus only its attention into the things of the present moment. It takes practice to train the mind to focus on the present moment. But once this has been achieved, negative thoughts about the past as well as the uncertainties of the future will be effectively blocked since the brain has been trained to focus only on the now.

Mindfulness meditation can significantly improve the individual’s sense of calm and relaxation. A fully relaxed and peaceful mind allows for the more efficient distribution of life-giving oxygen and nutrients in the brain. This, in effect, helps facilitate the healthier transmission of electrical impulses and pave the way for faster tissue repair and healing. In a way, mindfulness meditation can help improve brain wellness. This is beneficial for individuals who have either substance use disorders or mental health issues or even both.

Mindfulness meditation, when integrated into cognitive therapy, has been shown to be particularly effective in the management of severe depressive symptoms. The mindfulness-based cognitive therapy model not only helps the individual refocus his attention from negative emotions to something more neutral. More importantly, the MBCT model allows the individual to recondition his responses to the different triggers of the disorder. This helps the individual to become less judgmental or reactive or both to the triggers.

Benefits of Mindfulness

Aside from allowing individuals to consciously focus their attention away from negative thoughts and recondition their responses to triggers, science has also shown that mindfulness meditation can be particularly beneficial in the following:

  • Improve symptoms of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance use disorders, and schizophrenia;
  • Reduce severity of chronic pain;
  • Enhance sleep patterns;
  • Manage aggressive tendencies and other behavioral problems;
  • Improve regulation of emotions;
  • Enhance attention, clarity of focus, concentration, and memory;
  • Boost learning abilities and problem-solving skills;
  • Improve social relationships including the skills necessary to build and maintain such relationships; and
  • Aid in promoting healthier eating patterns which may help in weight loss efforts.

In addition to these benefits, mindfulness meditation has also been shown to improving the body’s ability to ward off diseases as well as lower the risk of heart diseases by reducing systolic blood pressures. The overall effect of these physiologic benefits of mindfulness can be seen in a healthier mind and body as fewer medical conditions will be able to wreak havoc on the already-vulnerable individual.

Techniques in Mindfulness Meditation

One of the major difficulties of first-time mindfulness practitioners is how to focus in the present moment. This is best achieved by paying attention to a single source. This focus point can be something in the mind or something that is entirely real, often a soft sound. For example the sound coming from bells and tones or even the wind chime or drops from a water fountain can become the focus point for your attention in the moment.

Mindfulness MeditationSome individuals find using Tai chi or even yoga as particularly beneficial in allowing them to focus on the moment. Some would tell of stories with happy endings told in the first person while some find that being mindful of their breathing can help them not think about negative thoughts. Others would want to focus on their pulses or even their heartbeats. Some individuals find focus in perpetually-moving objects like a gentle stream, clouds drifting across the sky, and candlelight, just to name a few.

Sprout Health Group has been helping individuals learn the mind-body practice of mindfulness to help them stay focused on the present moment and not on the negative thoughts that bring them anxiety and depression. When learned properly, mindfulness can be successfully integrated in every aspect of one’s life.

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