The practice of mindfulness shows its fruits in many ways, some almost immediate, and others in the long term. It is important to know that there are two main types of practice within mindfulness. First is the informal practice, which involves deliberate focused attention in our daily lives, meaning, while we are carrying out our usual activities. Second is the formal practice, which is meditation, carried out in a specific dedicated moment. In other words, this is the activity in and of itself, you are not doing it while you are doing other things. Both activities in essence are a form of meditation and belong to the global concept of mindfulness and both practices are essential.
So, what do you get out of it? What are the benefits? Here is a list of 15 benefits, some of which have been proven with empirical data, others are just “common knowledge” among practicioners over thousands of years. This is by no means an exhaustive list. It is just a starting point!
- Improves overall quality of life.
- Reduces stress, anxiety and depression.
- Reduces our “crazy mind” constant mental chatter (you know what I am talking about).
- Increases our awareness of ourselves and the world around us, giving us a greater sense of reality and confidence.
- Reduces the grip of the ego on our thoughts, feelings and behaviors, leading to greater sense of who we truly are, resulting in greater happiness and a more authentic existence.
- Increases compassion, empathy and emotional intelligence.
- Improves our social relationships in every area of our lives (even with that aunt who always pinches your face).
- Increases our ability to focus, which is beneficial for students, athletes, certain jobs or anyone who needs to hone their focusing skills.
- Reduces our emotional reactions and allows us to consciously respond to situations, freeing us from the grip of our emotions (no more road rage).
- Increases equanimity, which means that we can remain composed and stable when we are exposed to unpleasant situations, pain, stress or other situations in which we would otherwise be overwhelmed or thrown off balance.
- Reduces physical pain by altering the way our brains process pain.
- Improves our immune system.
- Improves our neural connections by fortifying the myelin sheath, which protects us from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
- Heightens our senses and makes life more enjoyable.
- Frees us from automatic unconscious behaviors, past trauma, judging and criticizing ourselves and others, harmful thoughts and addictions.
“The practice of mindfulness begins in the small, remote cave of your unconscious mind and blossoms with the sunlight of your conscious life, reaching far beyond the people and places you can see.”