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What is Mindfulness and How Can it Benefit Us

The practice of mindfulness means the act of engaging with our present environment, taking note of our surroundings and choosing to participate in the 'now' and the 'moment'.

Mindfulness has numerous benefits to our health and wellbeing from reduction of actual or perceived 'stress', anxiety and depression and increasing our levels of focus, concentration, performance and awareness. The practice of mindfulness also teaches us to be more gentle with ourselves and enables us to dial down the internal dialogue which can manifest as circulating thoughts, worries and criticism.

How we use our thoughts and our breathing can have can profound biological changes for our body, from lowering the release and effects of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, to physically supporting the parts of the brain which govern decision making processes and development (pre-frontal cortex), whilst reducing cyclical thoughts and worries associated with the survivalist part of the brain, the amygdala. In fact, these areas atrophy or grow depending on our lifestyle, how we manage stress and how we think.

The benefits of mindfulness is that anyone can do it and it is not tied into a belief structure. You can practice it through meditation, yoga, breathing, walking, sitting, eating and standing. It allows us to enter the experience with no judgement and cultivates the act of kindness both to ourselves and others. 

To get started I have added a simple meditation and a breathing exercise which can be incorporated easily into your day and will help to re-focus the mind. Click on the images to view.

Simple 5 minute meditation

Meditation in Forest

mindful breathing exercise

Image by Max van den Oetelaar
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