5 benefits of practicing mindfulness for wellbeing at home
What if the simple act of clearing your mind for just 15 minutes each day could lower your blood pressure and actually change the way your genes regulate inflammation, circadian rhythms and glucose metabolism? According to Harvard University researchers, it does that and more. Hundreds of studies have been conducted by top universities around the world looking into mindfulness and the effects it can have on building emotional resilience in all areas of life. These studies consistently show that mindfulness, an ancient practice spanning over 2500 years, is even more relevant today than it was when it was first derived from Asian contemplative traditions.
According to its classic Buddhist definition from the 1st century, mindfulness is the reflection on one’s experiences on a moment-by-moment basis: “You should super-intend your walking by thinking, ‘I am walking,’ your standing by thinking, ‘I am standing,’ and so on; that is how you are asked to apply mindfulness to all such activities”. Modern usage of mindfulness is well defined by results taken from a number of mindfulness studies that characterise mindfulness as: (a) observing one’s experiences, (b) describing them, (c) acting with awareness, (d) non-judging of inner experience, and (e) non-reactivity to inner experience.
All of these skills are taught by resilience programs for educators, students and families as being critical for reaching a more mindful, positive and productive state.
Improved Communication skills
Think about what being mindful means – paying attention to what is happening in the present moment, listening deliberately and without judgment. These factors of mindfulness make it the perfect practice to develop communication skills. Much of communicating is done through listening, and being more focused on your surroundings. Think of mindful parenting as: (a) listening with full attention; (b) nonjudgmental acceptance of self and child; (c) emotional awareness of self and child; (d) self-regulation in the parenting relationship; and (e) compassion for self and child.
Reduction in stress levels
One of the best things about mindfulness is its contagiousness. Once one person begins practicing mindfulness, we find it doesn’t take long to calm the whole house, classroom or workplace. Studies on mindfulness and emotional contagion have shown that others, especially children, can catch the emotional state of those around us without knowing it.
Increased relationship satisfaction
Many studies have investigated the role of mindfulness in romantic relationships and have found positive correlations between mindfulness practice and relationship satisfaction. Put simply, if you are more engaged, aware and communicative in a relationship, it is much more likely that relationship is going to be positive. Rather than focusing energy on trying to change your partner, or focusing on negative emotions, take up a mindfulness practice or undertake a program through a resilience program provider.
When mindfulness is being practiced, you will become more aware of your own vulnerability and needs. It's hard and counterproductive to keep beating ourselves up when we should tending to our feelings and moving on from problems. If you are feeling anxious, inhale deeply, tell yourself you're safe and will be alright, and your body will respond. Your mind and body naturally want a peaceful state. The more you can be mindful of each moment the more your brain takes note of where you focus your attention and grows new connections for empathy and peace in your brain.
Students who practice mindfulness have better focus, attention and memory
Mindfulness has the documented ability to strengthen the pre-frontal cortex (behind the forehead) and subsequently all of the functions of the pre-frontal cortex are boosted too: Concentration, Focus, Problem-solving and coping skills, regulation of emotions under pressure and developing self-insight and understanding, promoting intuition and mitigating impulsivity. All of these functions have positive effects on children’s performance in the classroom too.
Apply mindfulness in your daily life by:
- Choosing to be more mindful
- Use quiet moments to close your eyes, take a deep breath and focus on your surroundings
- Listen more closely to people when they speak
- Take time to be in nature
- Notice your senses: smell the flowers, focus on the texture and touch of a loved one
- Focus on doing one thing at a time instead of multi-tasking