The philosophy and practice of Mindfulness is very much in the news, and has generated a great deal of interest both in scientific circles and in the street .

Although Mindfulness seems to be the new fleeting trend in the field of well-being and meditation, it is not a recent phenomenon: its origins date back to the end of the 7th century BC, a historical moment closely linked to the emergence of Buddhism.

The benefits of Mindfulness

The fundamental objective of Mindfulness is to provide us with a method to learn how to manage emotions, reactions, attitudes and thoughts in order to be able to face the situations that life presents us, through the practice and improvement of full awareness. Thus, we will be able to discover that through the development of full attention in the present moment we develop certain positive attitudes in relation to our mental state and emotions, coming to control them from freedom, knowledge in oneself and acceptance .

Conscious attention as a key to self-knowledge

Mindfulness is about learning, connecting with our inner selves, managing our internal events and reacting more consciously and effectively to day-to-day events. The philosophy of conscious attention proposes that on this path we are able, progressively, to find the essence of who we are.

Ultimately, we must be aware that what causes us discomfort or anxiety is not the events , but how we link the emotions to them. Compassion and Self-pity are practices that help us to relate to events in a non-judgmental way and to be open to suffering , both our own and that of others. In Mindfulness, compassion is key, since it helps us to minimize the impact of the negative things that happen to us. It is not about erasing the negative emotions that certain events can cause us, but about reducing their intensity .

Over the past centuries, Mindfulness techniques have been applied to support psychotherapies used to solve various mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety, sleep disorders and pain tolerance, among others.

In this article we propose to develop eight benefits for your mental and physical health that Mindfulness can bring you.

1. helps to control stress and anxiety

As we commented in the article “The 6 psychological benefits of Yoga , the lifestyle of Western societies can lead many people to suffer from stress, causing psychological health problems such as depression, anxiety, etc. Like yoga, meditation and mindfulness reduce levels of cortisol , a hormone that is released in response to stress.

Cortisol is necessary for the body as it regulates and mobilizes energy in stressful situations, but if we have too much or it increases in situations where we do not need it, it produces many side effects. The practice of Mindfulness provides its practitioners with a state of calm and serenity , which undoubtedly affects our physical and emotional health. In this way, the levels of cortisol fall, also causing blood pressure to drop.

2. Ends insomnia problems

A University of Utah study found that training with Mindfulness can not only help us reduce stress and control anxiety, but can help us sleep better at night. According to Holly Roy, the author of this study, “people who practice mindfulness daily show better control over emotions and behaviors during the day. On the other hand, these people show a low level of cortical activation at night, which helps them sleep better”

3. Protects the brain

American researchers from Harvard University Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have shown that meditation, a technique that is part of Mindfulness training, increases the size of the Telomeres, structures located at the ends of chromosomes that are directly related to aging and the development of certain pathologies associated with aging.

In addition, research from the University of Oregon concludes that meditation and mindfulness can modify the brain’s neural structure. Regular Mindfulness practice is associated with increased axonal density and increased myelin in the axons of the anterior cingulate cortex.

4. Increases concentration capacity

Mindfulness is a practice that focuses on the training of consciousness and full attention, in order to voluntarily direct these mental processes. A study by Walsh and Shapiro showed that Mindfulness is effective in increasing our ability to concentrate.

This fact has led experts to advise this practice as a complementary therapy in attention deficit disorders. In addition, a study by Moore and Malinowski in 2009 concluded that the practice of Mindfulness correlated positively with cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning .

5. Develops emotional intelligence

Mindfulness helps us to get to know ourselves, to investigate within ourselves and to show ourselves as we are. With its practice, Self-awareness and Self-knowledge are improved and makes us evolve internally .

Also, through compassion for ourselves, we are able to make things less of an issue for ourselves. A study by Ortner, a researcher at the University of Toronto, showed that people who include Mindfulness in their lives have more emotional control than people who do not practice it

6. Improves interpersonal relations

A 2007 study by Wachs and Cordova suggests that a person’s ability to practice Mindfulness can predict the satisfaction of their relationships , that is, the ability to respond appropriately to relationship stress and the ability to communicate their emotions to the other person.

On the other hand, the Mindfulness philosophy, based on compassion and acceptance, improves interpersonal relationships according to Barnes, a researcher at the University of Rochester.

7. Encourages creativity

Meditation helps to calm the mind, and a calm mind has more room to generate new ideas. Researchers from the Institute of Brain and Cognition at Leiden University in the Netherlands found an increase in creativity in those who regularly practice Mindfulness.

8. Improves working memory

The improvement of the working memory seems to be another benefit of the Mindfulness practice. A study by Jha in 2010 documented the benefits of Mindfulness and meditation on a group of military personnel after their participation in a Mindfulness training program that lasted a total of eight weeks.

Data from this group were compared with data from another group of military personnel who had not participated in the programme. The results showed that the group that had participated in the Mindfulness training program improved their working memory compared to the other group.