The benefits of mindfulness practice summarised
Recently published research in the journal “Health Psychology” showed that mindfulness is not only associated with feeling less stressed but also linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Evidence-based research also shows mindfulness as an effective stress reduction tool when delivered to mainstream communities. However, we also know that cultural appropriateness and context is crucial in determining how mindfulness is received and engaged with by certain groups. Moreover, we are also determined to ensure UK marginalised communities are not deprived of culturally appropriate access to mindfulness and that we build the evidence base for marginalised people that shows the practice to be just as effective as any other practice or intervention of a contemplative nature when culturally shaped.
Improves knowledge of self and therefore others
Mindfulness can help us to see beyond those rose-tinted glasses when we need to analyse ourselves objectively. A study in the journal, “Psychological Science” shows that mindfulness can help us conquer common “blind spots,” which can amplify or diminish our perceptions of reality and lead to bias. By developing our observational skills, we become aware of habits of mind, including thoughts, sensations and emotional feelings and build new relationships with what we find that invites transformation from the inside out.
It can help you focus during exams or periods requiring intense concentration.
Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that college students who trained in mindfulness performed better on the verbal reasoning assessments and also experienced improvements in their working memory. The researchers wrote, “Our results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide-reaching benefits.”
As a key element of mindfulness training involves practising single-pointed concentration, we learn how to zoom our attention in and out on a chosen topic, subject or object. As we exercise our attention in this way, we learn how to maintain focus and be less troubled by distraction, which could have far-reaching benefits for conditions where focused attention is needed.
It can help you get into the zone or flow state
Mindfulness meditation has been used extensively in sports to aid athletes in getting into the flow or zone state. It is a well-known fact that many Olympic athletes have used mindfulness meditation to enhance their performance and achieve great things. An excellent example of this is Phil Jackson, who was known as the Zen Coach as he used mindfulness to lead both the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers to their most dominant periods in recent history and multiple victories that resulted in the creation of many NBA household names we might take for granted today.
It can make music sound and feel better
Mindfulness of sound is a core element of mindfulness practice. We could also describe this as mindfulness of vibration, which is a foundational quality of energy and, subsequently, our existence. The eardrum is the first organ that develops in the fetus, and sound is our first engagement with the outside world as we develop in the womb. Therefore, as we come intimately close to sound, we also come close to what it was like when we were in complete harmony with one another, and the fears of survival were not yet realised. As a result, mindfulness meditation that includes the soundscape can improve our focused engagement with music, helping us to truly enjoy and experience what we’re listening to, as asserted in a study in the journal “Psychology of Music”.
Many artists assert that mindfulness helps them with their performance, creativity and connection, particularly when looking for a catchy baseline!
It can influence our relationships
We are strong believers in the idea that mindfulness has the potential to transform the way we relate to ourselves and each other. Initially, mindfulness invites us to explore our internal relationships to whatever we experience in thought, bodily sensations and emotions. Through this process, a new relationship to ourselves emerges that is more in line not only with who we intrinsically are but also perhaps with who we would like to become or be. The benefits of mindfulness rooted in compassionate action are highlighted in studies in the journal “Psychological Science”, for example, where researchers from North Eastern and Harvard Universities found that meditation is linked with more virtuous, “do-good” behaviour.
However, it is also important to assert that this doesn’t mean mindfulness is about being submissive or passive. To the contrary, mindfulness rooted in compassionate action leads to ferociously graceful practitioners who are willing to set boundaries and take a stand where required for a sense of peace and solidarity to arise in balance with all the natural twists and turns of life.
It can help you sleep better
One of our very own Urban Mindfulness Foundation Facilitators suffered from insomnia and decided to do their master’s degree research study mindfulness and insomnia and the ability of mindfulness to alleviate it. Interestingly, from what we understand, whilst mindfulness itself perhaps did stop the insomnia, the attitudes towards the impact of insomnia on a person’s life were significantly improved through mindfulness practice.
Whilst this is not an exhaustive list of the benefits of mindfulness, we are reluctant to even attempt to list all the benefits of mindfulness extensively because we truly believe that the benefits emerge uniquely for every person as it manifests from, within and through authentic lived experience.