Practicing Mindfulness to Reduce Stress

In a world driven by task managers, Google Calendar, and bluetooth everything, taking a moment to pause might be one of the most counterintuitive actions for someone seeking to get ahead. According to recent research, however, this action is far more necessary than we may want it to be.

“Mindfulness” is a phenomenon that has grasped America rapidly in the past few years, driving entrepreneurs and self-care specialists alike to explore its effects. This form of meditation aims to reach a state of consciousness or awareness that heightens one’s relationship with the world. In fact, the practice has become so popular that groups far and wide are attempting to understand it- The United States Marines, middle and high school classrooms, business executives, pregnancy support groups, and doctors themselves are only a few examples of groups that swear by mindfulness practices. Not even age impacts the effectiveness of practicing mindfulness: in a study performed by Time Magazine on fourth and fifth graders, it was found that children practicing mindfulness had 15 percent higher math scores, were 24 percent less aggressive and showed 24 percent more social behaviors than their peers.

The supposed benefits of “mindfulness” are further reaching than one might expect. Those who practice as little as ten minutes of meditation grounded in the present report feeling decreased levels of stress, overall calmer disposition, and a better sense of purpose in daily life. Psychologists extend these benefits as much as to say that those practicing meditation increase their ability to focus, drown out “brain chatter” or underlying distraction, and are better able to communicate with their peers and colleagues.

The latter reason in particular makes this act perhaps the most valuable of them all. After all, communicating better can not only help socially in terms of relating to friends and classmates, but can aid one to be better a team member, group leader or negotiator. These roles can be utilized in virtually every aspect of life. In particular, many believe that Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) helps to operate in the world with greater compassion towards ourselves and others.

The distinction between mindfulness and perhaps more stereotypical meditation, however, is in its practice. While meditation is the most extreme and focused form of the practice, mindfulness does not require a block of time to be sacrificed in order to reap results. Rather, many experts recommend applying the idea of mindfulness to basic tasks to live a life in elevated awareness and satisfaction. These displays could include anything from “mindful runs” or walks, in which individuals focus on the contact between their bodies and the earth, or mindful eating in which one hones in on individual flavors and sensations experienced which eating food. Even bringing focus to one’s breathing patterns during mundane actions can help to reap benefits in itself. In trying mindfulness, you will most certainly discover benefits further reaching than you might expect.

Poyani Bavishi
editor in chief

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