Psychological Benefits of Mindfulness
Eckhart Tolle, a spiritual teacher, said “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have”. Most of us don’t understand the value of the present moment.
We tend to worry about the past or feel anxious about the future. As the result, we lose our peace of mind. We can no longer appreciate and enjoy life as it comes.
In times like this, we must calm ourselves down by living in the present moment. This state of living in the present moment is called mindfulness.
BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS: A BRIEF OVERVIEW
The roots of mindfulness go back to Buddhist philosophy. The English word, Mindfulness, is translated from the term in the Pali language called Sati, meaning “to remember”.
As you remember to stay in the present moment, you begin to see that you experience positive changes physically and mentally.
Practicing Mindfulness strengthens the immune system. As your body reacts to stress, there is an increase in inflammation. A response produced by the immunity system due to the presence of germs, bacteria, etc.
Research establishes that if you cultivate mindfulness in daily life, you develop the strength to fight against the stress that affects the immune system.
Research also proves that mindfulness is related to memory. As you keep practicing mindfulness, there is a growth of the hippocampus. An area in the brain that is responsible for remembering information.
The more you practice mindfulness, the more you increase your capacity to remember and learn new information. The two examples provided above show that mindfulness is good for your body and mind. From this point onward, we specifically understand the psychological benefits of practicing mindfulness.
By cultivating mindfulness, you understand and process your emotions better. Emotions will always remain an integral part of human life and one cannot deny this fact.
Not only human beings even plants are not exempted from feeling emotions like joy, happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, anger, etc. However, we humans must learn to control and regulate our emotions because we live in a society.
In other words, you cannot burst out in anger at your family members or friends. If you do that, you are going to lose a lot of relationships. Therefore, you need to train your emotions and mindfulness will help you with that. Research shows that mindfulness practices improve Emotional Intelligence (EI).
Emotional Intelligence can be defined as the ability to use and understand your emotions. Scientifically, it has been proved that mindfulness helps you to comprehend your emotions better.
Also, it creates mental space for thinking and reasoning even when you are overwhelmed by emotions such as anger and fear.
A research study suggests that mindfulness can help you to unlearn fear. According to Harvard Research, it is possible to dissolve fear by rewiring the memories that trigger it.
Using mindfulness as a tool, one can divert attention from traumatic memories towards the sensations and feelings of the present moment.
Focus on what is right in front of you. The furniture in your room, your office files, your table fan. As you continue to practice mindfulness, you train your mind to break the emotional association of the memories with fear.
As much as mindfulness influences your emotions, it also influences your thinking. A new study confirms the relationship between mindfulness and rumination.
To ruminate means to continuously think about the same thoughts over and over again. However, it is important to not forget that rumination to some extent is a common experience.
All of us at some point keep thinking continuously about things to do in the near future be it assignments, deadlines, or meetings. However, rumination becomes problematic and dysfunctional when thoughts become excessive and uncontrollable.
A study shows that mindfulness shares a negative correlation with rumination. Practicing mindfulness reduces the escalation of rumination into vicious uncontrollable cycles.
Mindfulness empowers you to shift attention from ruminating thoughts and helps you to stay aware of what you think. This way you can avoid dysfunctional rumination of thoughts.
REDUCE COGNITIVE BIASES
Apart from rumination, the thinking process gets distorted due to cognitive biases as well. Cognitive biases are errors in thinking which affect how you process information from the world.
One example of cognitive biases is called confirmation bias. The confirmation bias is the tendency for people to interpret new evidence as confirmation of their existing, old beliefs.
In this case, one cannot be open to new experiences because of judgment clouds thinking.
As the result, you would not be open to new ideas in the workplace discussions because you cannot change your viewpoint even if valid points are raised by your colleagues.
Unlike cognitive biases which are about errors in general thinking patterns. Implicit biases are unconscious beliefs that one holds against a particular social group on the basis of race, gender, religion, and ethnicity.
Research shows that mindfulness helps to reduce implicit biases. Through mindfulness, you learn to pay attention to the present moment. This helps you to detach yourself from the previously made automatic and unconscious assumptions.
As you curb implicit biases through mindfulness, you can learn to set your biases aside and communicate better with people.