The Positive Outcomes of Mindfulness
By Antonietta Marinelli | Mar 26, 2021
It is very easy for us to fall into the trap of negativity, especially when we become consumed and overwhelmed with piles of work or hours of study. We can get caught up in rumination or negative cycles of thoughts and worrying about every potential outcome of our future (Cho, 2016), increasing our stress levels. Days get busy, overwhelming, and you are left feeling like all your energy has been consumed due to all the tasks you set yourself for the day. But in the rush to accomplish necessary tasks, you may find yourself losing your connection with the present moment—missing out on what you are doing and how you are feeling. In comes the practice of mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
The term “mindfulness” has been used to refer to a psychological state of awareness. It is defined as a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgement. In its simplest form, mindfulness means awareness. We all practice mindfulness in one way or another and what may be considered mindfulness to one, may be different to another. Practicing mindfulness offers a way to pay attention to the present moment can be achieved through exercise, writing, reading, meditating or anything which calms an individual down. The benefits of practicing mindfulness include reducing stress, anxiety and conflict in addition to increasing resilience and emotional intelligence, while improving communication in the workplace (Crossland-Thackray, 2012).
What are the outcomes of practicing mindfulness?
Firstly, what is rumination? Rumination is the process of carefully thinking something over, pondering it, or meditating on it (Dictionary, 2020). It is to have little understanding of what is happening and try to semi-consciously store away that experience, impression or moment to later rumination. Several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces rumination. A study asked 20 novice meditators to participate in a 10-day intensive mindfulness retreat. Post-retreat, the group of meditators had a higher self-reported mindfulness and decreased negative thought process. It was stated that they experienced better working memory capacity, and were better able to sustain attention through their day-to-day (Davis, Jeffery, Hayes, 2012)
Many studies have shown that practices of mindfulness have reduced stress levels. Although meditation still isn’t exactly mainstream, many people practice it, hoping to stave off stress and stress-related health problems. Mindfulness meditation has become more popular in recent years. The practice of mindful meditation involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future.A study conducted by John Hopkins University in Baltimore sifted through 19,000 meditation studies, finding 47 trials which addressed issues surrounding high-stress levels. Their findings suggested that mindful meditation can help ease psychological stress levels (Corliss, 2014).
Practicing mindfulness is a great way to bring your thoughts back to the centre of your mind. If your negative thoughts are on a loop, gently acknowledge them, but turn your attention to writing down things that exist or happened that were good. Did you have a fun experience with a friend? Go shopping? Enjoy the sunshine? Write. It. Down! (Cho, 2016). According to researchers at Harvard university, our minds are lost in thought 47% of the time. For students, these thoughts regularly stem from two cases: dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. A research conducted by Columbia University Medical Center claims that mediating can shift your concentration levels. Concentrative fixates on a particular point, whether it is a word, breath or object. The goal is to release thoughts and maintain or refocus your attention on that point, preventing your mind from wandering (Columbia University, 2018).
Mindfulness is all about drawing back where your mind wanders off to. To fully practice mindfulness, you must be self-aware of your physical and mental actions. Mindfulness is the practice of “return” - this means noticing when your mind has strayed thinking and bringing your awareness to the present (Cho, 2016). Practicing mindfulness can shift your mindset to a more stable and positive place, but remember, it’s all dependent on how self-aware you are of it.
● Cho, J. (2016). 4 Ways of Creating Positive Mindset In 2017 Using Mindfulness. Forbes. [Accessed 25 March 2021] 4 Ways of Creating Positive Mindset In 2017 Mindfulness.
● Corliss, J. (2014). Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress. Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. [Accessed 25 March 2021] Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress.
● Crossland-Thackray, G (2012). Mindfulness at work: what are the benefits? The Guardian. [Accessed 25 March 2021] Mindfulness at work: What Are The Benefits?
● Dictionary 2020. Dictonary.com. [Accessed 25 March 2021] Browse: Rumination