7 Benefits of Mindfulness
Do you ever ponder why we strive to be mindful? Why have we embarked on this journey anyway? Seeking to live a more joyful, mindful, balanced life requires self-awareness, introspection, and effort. So, if it’s all this work, why are we doing it in the first place? What is the end goal that makes it all worth it? The answer is simple, but contains depth: mindfulness is holistically healthy.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of going through life with a perspective of higher self-awareness. At its most basic, mindfulness is “watching what your mind is full of”. At its most complex, mindfulness reaches into every aspect of our lives to increase synergy and alignment. And whether you are meditating and watching your mind (or breath) or you are simply paying close attention to what you are doing in the moment, mindfulness can be a powerful tool.
More specifically, mindfulness is about making an effort to be more present and processing each moment with our thoughts and the five senses as we make ourselves more aware and in-tune with the world around us and our lives. This can look like slowing down to enjoy a milestone moment, maintaining a routine that includes meditation, taking a walk and soaking up all the wonder or nature, savoring the texture, smell and taste of your meal:the list goes on for as long as we can create ways that increase our presence and purpose.
Mindfulness is often combined with spirituality; many people have different definitions and practices of spirituality, but their mindful daily work can be influenced by spiritual beliefs. Mindfulness is for everyone and, therefore, is special and a different experience for anyone. While many people can be on a similar journey, those paths could look completely different as their mindfulness is specific and individualized by the unique beliefs, thoughts, and personalities of each person.
Why Practice Mindfulness?
Other than the immediate, intangible benefits of internal awareness and growth, why is mindfulness important or worth practicing? Mindfulness is holistically healthy because it impacts all types of wellness: mental, physical, and emotional.
7 Benefits of Mindfulness
There are a multitude of benefits that can be gained by practicing mindfulness. I’ll highlight a few of my favorites here.
In seeking to live mindfully, a lot of the practices we share here at JMB Living focus on joy. I emphasize activities and mindfulness exercises that focus on seeing beauty and in the process finding daily joy because it then creates self-sustaining and lasting happiness in the little things, while magnifying the automatic joy of the big things. The internal alignment and growth we gain from mindfulness practices create satisfaction with ourselves and our lives as we recognize everything we have with gratitude and live with an abundance mindset.
Mindfulness exercises such as meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and more have been proven through multiple studies to reduce overall and immediate stress. Regardless of the content of these practices, there is an immediate release of stress involved in just stepping away and taking the time for yourself. Then, during these mindfulness practices, we use techniques and physical exercises and activities that actually lower stress as well.
Lowers blood pressure
The combination of these benefits such as reduced stress and improved sleep and mental wellbeing have tangible health benefits, such as a lower blood pressure. This one is close to my heart as my father had suffered with many of the challenges that accompany congestive heart failure and it is widely accepted that keeping blood pressure within healthy ranges leads to a happy heart.
Many aspects of practicing mindfulness contribute to improved sleep. The regulation and balance from a routine, meditation, yoga, and healthier eating are all different practices that can improve your sleep cycle. The reduction of stress helps in this way as well. And folks this is SO important! More and more science is understanding how critical sufficient sleep and reduced stress is to our overall health.
Fosters stronger relationships
According to the American Psychological Association, several studies have concluded that the ability to be mindful can help protect against the stress created during relationship conflicts. Mindfulness helps foster stronger tolerance as well as an increased ability to communicate ones feelings and needs within a relationship. This in turn can lead to healthier more balanced relationships.
Improves our ability to manage illness
I’ve had more than one friend tell me how much the practice of mindfulness has helped them cope with depression and I too have relied heavily on mindfulness based exercises during the most challenging times in my own life. Recently I had the pleasure of connecting with Natalie Sayre to feature her in our upcoming winter issue of the JMB Living Journal. She regularly shares in her blog and on her Instagram page how mindfulness helps her manage pain and chronic illness.
Increases mental health
Mindfulness practices can create joy, balance, and establish coping mechanisms and ways to go through simple days and difficult challenges. This creates fortitude and provides us with tools and strength to combat things that threaten our mental health. Additionally, these mindfulness practices also automatically improve our mental health through regulation and intention.
How to Practice Mindfulness
So then how do we achieve these benefits? I’ve previously mentioned some ways to practice mindfulness such as yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation, but also mindfulness is an individual experience that is determined by your goals, beliefs, and thoughts.
You can have a guided mindfulness experience by looking to those with experience that share their wisdom and resources online, and you can also practice your own self-defined mindfulness as you are intentional about your thoughts and interactions as you go throughout your day. Perhaps you want to create a balance of information and practices from others, with your own exercises or efforts to be continuously present and mindful.
For additional guidance and information on instilling daily mindfulness and joy into your routine, check out the JMB Living Journal. I created this journal as a way to practice mindfulness in a gently guided way. The journal contains a variety of mindfulness practices, as well as proven prompts alongside the functionality of a planner to incorporate mindfulness to your daily routine and responsibilities. The journal is updated quarterly to reflect the beauty of living in harmony with seasonal shifts and contains new content with each new journal. Within it, you can focus on defining and achieving your dreams while recognizing daily joy and beauty along the way.