Mindfulness has been demonstrated to have a broad range of positive benefits from improved mental and physical health, see today’s Research News article, “). Standardised Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Healthcare: An Overview of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses of RCTs”
to the treatment of both physical and mental illnesses, to increases in creativity, to increased happiness, and on and on. I am unaware of anything that is so beneficial to so many things as mindfulness. As an added bonus, developing mindfulness costs nothing and can be done virtually anywhere under any conditions.
Mindfulness sounds too good to be true. How can this be? How can anything do all of this? To understand we must first recognize that we make ourselves miserable and sick. We constantly worry about the future and this creates fear, anxiety, and stress. We constantly and ruminate about the past and this makes us regretful and depressed and lowers our self-esteem.
Mindfulness is about present moment awareness. It recognizes that the past is gone and the future is not here yet. The only thing that matters is now! By moving us away from the misery producing thoughts of past and future, mindfulness immediately removes two processes that have negative impacts on us. In addition, it helps us recognize that the only time we can ever be happy is now! So it shifts our focus to the good things that are always there and present in the present moment.
Mindfulness reduces stress and this can reduce inflammatory responses that are detrimental to our health. We create much of our own stress by driving ourselves toward some future goal or by inordinately worrying about what is actually only a remotely possible catastrophe, or by trying to live up to some glorified image of what we should be or what we should accomplish. Mindfulness is an antidote for all of this. Seeing things as the really are right here right now undercuts the unhealthy striving, relieves the fears, and places realistic perspective on our human condition.
Modern life as we’ve developed it has removed us from the conditions in which we as a species evolved. It has created an artificial world that has become increasingly divorced from nature including our own human nature. Mindfulness is an important treatment for this modern illness. It helps us reconnect to the natural world that is our origin. It helps us reconnect with our own body; physically, mentally, and emotionally. As a result, it relaxes, refreshes, and creates happiness in just being alive.
Mindfulness practices probably would not have been so beneficial centuries ago or in more primitive societies. Most of its benefits emanate from its counteracting the problems that modern life creates. But, in today’s world, its benefits are amplified.
So cultivate mindfulness, the antidote to modern life