Mindfulness resonates with so many people today, and for good reason. At AHCS, we are huge advocates for practices that promote physical, mental, and emotional wellness. And it has been proven that mindfulness has the capacity to increase physical and emotional bandwidth.
With that said, let’s discuss how we can start to make mindfulness a part of our routines, and why this is important.
First of all, what exactly is mindfulness? This is important to establish because there are so many misconceptions. Plenty of people think of mindfulness as simply meditation, and it goes much deeper than that.
Mindfulness is, by definition, the practice of being present and aware of your body and its surroundings. This is crucial to outline, as there are those who connect mindfulness to meditation – and connect meditation to being devoid of thoughts…and this is just not true. To be mindful is to notice thoughts and feelings, and let them pass by. Coming back to your practice is also a fundamental part of this. If you can acknowledge each thought, then return to your breath or mindfulness activity, you have been successful in your practice. The goal is not to oust any thought that might cross your mind, but to separate yourself from the thought by recognizing it and letting it be. As long as you return to your breath, you are doing it.
And here’s the exciting part – the more you do this, the more naturally it comes and the more impactful it is on your entire system – both mental and physical.
An Enigma of the Amygdala
According to a Harvard article, one researcher performed a study that involved scanning the brains of participants before learning meditation, and after – and the results detected a change in a central part of the brain, called the amygdala, which is responsible for emotional regulation. In the study, participants’ scans demonstrated a less activated amygdala when exposed to the same content as seen prior to learning meditation practices. Essentially, this means that there was less of a strain on their emotional regulating processes.
Not only can mindfulness influence brain activity and emotional response, but it can improve physical health outcomes as well.
We know stress has an impact on physical health, and stress reduction is often achieved through meditation practices – but it’s more than that. Meditation can improve sleep, decrease blood pressure, and even control pain. All of these have their own knock-on effects in managing other physical and mental health conditions.
And to be clear, meditation is not the only way to engage in mindfulness practices. If you have struggled to incorporate meditation into your routine, that’s okay. Reading, writing or other creative activities also count as mindfulness exercises. Walking in nature is another excellent way to engage in mindfulness. The bottom line is that it’s what works for YOU.
The most important takeaway when it comes to seeing lasting benefits is consistency. You will feel most changes in mental and physical health with regular, consistent practice of mindfulness.
We hope you’ll try incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine and experience a 360-wellness improvement. Thanks for reading!