3 Benefits to Mindfulness as an Essential Skill for Rising to Your Peak Potential
Sarah Mae (SMae) |
The benefits to mindfulness are so immense that this is undeniably an Essential Skill that you likely didn’t learn in school.
Many cultures have been practicing and studying mindfulness for centuries. Yet, it has only been more recently that Western Science has finally started to take it seriously, which is why it’s such a buzzword these days.
One of the most common modern definitions comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) who says, “Mindfulness is the awareness that arises by paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
It’s essentially the ability to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you.
It’s important to note that there is no specific technique that you must do to practice mindfulness. Whether it’s eating, walking, breathing, meditating, or listening, by being fully present while doing an activity you’re being mindful.
The latest research on long-term meditators by neuroscientists has demonstrated the importance of practicing mindfulness. So here are 3 of the benefits that make this Essential Skill worth investing your energy into.
3 Benefits of Mindfulness Practice:
1) Mindfulness will help you focus
According to a study done by Case Western Reserve University, “The human mind is estimated to wander roughly half of our waking hours, but mindfulness can stabilize attention in the present. Individuals who completed mindfulness training were shown to remain vigilant longer on both visual and listening tasks”.
In addition, another study out of the School of Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University showed that “meditation practices that improve mindfulness skills will have a positive effect on cognitive flexibility and the ability to focus and sustain attention” (Moore and Malinowski).
Mindfulness also has been shown to help overcome your Bully Brain and prevent rumination (repeatedly going over the same thoughts in your mind), which can be super distracting. In another study, published in the Cognitive Therapy and Research Journal, 20 novice meditators participated in a 10-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat. Afterward, the researchers found that the new meditators self-reported increased levels of mindfulness and decreased levels of reflective rumination (Chambers et al.).
With attention spans becoming smaller and smaller these days, this is an important benefit. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that practicing mindfulness has helped me be more focused in my life!
I’m able to read books more closely without having to reread the same paragraph multiple times (I am sure we’ve all been there!), and I am able to listen WAY more attentively!
What are some areas you could use more focus in?
2) Mindfulness will improve your relationships
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Difference concluded that practicing mindfulness is consistently associated with better emotional awareness and less social anxiety (Dekeyser et al.).
Likewise, according to a practice review on the benefits to mindfulness, practicing can increase your ability to relate to others and yourself with “kindness, acceptance, and compassion” (Davis and Hayes). The review also highlights that “mindfulness protects against the emotionally stressful effects of relationship conflict, is positively associated with the ability to express oneself in various social situations, and predicts relationship satisfaction” (Ibid.).
Mindfulness has 100% improved my ability to be fully present IN the moment with my clients and the people I care about, which has increased the quality of my connections.
We’re all guilty of paying more attention to what we are going to say next rather than truly listening to what the person we are talking to is saying, and we all know how crappy it is to talk to someone who is too focused on when it will be their turn to speak. It is the worst!
Since I started meditating every day I have found it’s so much easier to stay connected to the person I am speaking to and really hear what they are saying without getting caught up in my own thoughts. I am also more able to articulate a thoughtful response when the time comes.
The next time you are having a conversation with someone, see how long you can focus on what they are saying without planning your response.
3) Mindfulness will lower your stress
You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t experience some kind of stress on a day-to-day basis. In fact, you’re probably dealing with some form of it right now, am I right?
Mindfulness practices can help you manage stress by providing four key types of relief:
- Cogitive Relief (through mindful meditation)
- Sensory Relief (through mindful breathing)
- Physical Relief (through mindful walking)
- Emotional Relief (through mindful gratitude practice)
A 2007 study randomly assigned a group of 40 undergraduate students to 5 days of mindfulness-based meditation practice and the findings showed that students taking part in the mindfulness training demonstrated lowered anxiety AND a significant decrease in stress-related cortisol when compared to the control group (Tang et al.).
So it is worth giving it a shot!
You may also find Jon Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR courses helpful, a quick Google search will bring up tons of options, and he has a Masterclass you can complete HERE.
I count myself incredibly lucky to have learned how to meditate when I was in elementary school. There happened to be a volunteer that ran a meditation workshop and it impacted me so much that I have returned to the practice again and again ever since.
I’m certain that learning this at such a young age helped get me through some of the most challenging times of my life. However, I didn’t practice regularly until November 2019, when I decided to dedicate a minimum of 10 minutes a day to meditation, and I haven’t missed a day since.
I know that, for some, meditation can seem overwhelming. It’s important to remember that, contrary to popular belief, mindfulness meditation is not “turning your brain off”. It is practicing noticing you are thinking and coming back to a “home base”, such as your breath. If you have no thoughts, there will be nothing to practice. Hence, it’s a skill that can be learned.
If meditation really isn’t for you, no worries! You can achieve the same benefits through other mindfulness practices such as mindful walking and/or breathing.
Whatever you choose, start practicing this important essential skill today.
P.S. Are you feeling unfulfilled with your life and/or overwhelmed at the idea of making a change? If so, my signature 1-1 coaching program, Route to Rise, is designed to help you gain the skills you didn’t learn in school and finally take control of your life with the healthy habits, motivation, and clarity needed to RISE to your Peak Potential and live the life you know you deserve. Read more here.
Case Western Reserve University. “Mindfulness in the Workplace Improves Employee Focus, Attention, Behavior, New Management-Based Research Concludes.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 10 Mar. 2016, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160310141455.htm.
Chambers, Richard, et al. “The Impact of INTENSIVE Mindfulness Training ON Attentional Control, Cognitive Style, and Affect.” Cognitive Therapy and Research, Springer US, 23 Feb. 2007, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10608-007-9119-0.
Davis, Daphne, and Jeffrey Hayes. “What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness? A Practice Review of Psychotherapy-Related Research.” Psychotherapy (Chicago, Ill.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21639664/.
Dekeyser, Mathias, et al. “Mindfulness Skills and Interpersonal Behaviour.” Personality and Individual Differences, Pergamon, 28 Jan. 2008, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886907004242.
Moore, Adam, and Peter Malinowski. “Meditation, Mindfulness and Cognitive Flexibility.” Consciousness and Cognition, Academic Press, 31 Jan. 2009, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810008001967.
Tang, Yi-Yuan, et al. “Short-Term Meditation Training Improves Attention and Self-Regulation.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, National Academy of Sciences, 23 Oct. 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2040428/.