Mindfulness – WHY? **
It’s true: I tend to suggest mindfulness to all clients. Please consider adding this to your life toolbox. "Mindfulness" is a term that has become quite prevalent in regular conversation. While the term has gained popular status, I urge you to not dismiss the suggestion simply because the idea seems to be trendy or a fad (and therefore assumed to be superficial or transitory.)
The “idea” of mindfulness is a contemplative/meditative technique that has a long standing history, and variations are found in each major (and most minor) world religions. It is a life tool that can be used by a variety of individuals without conflict with their spiritiual orientation.
Here is another professional whose view is similar to mine:
In Christianity, it is has been present since Christ. A good website:
Brother Lawrence is one of my favorite Christian authors on the topic. Julian of Norwich is another. The Quaker denomination has a mindfulness orientation.
In Islam, a quick google search reveals many sites that present mindfulness as a contemplative part of the Muslim faith. A similar search for the Hindu religion reveals a similar number of sites supporting, defining, and encouraging the practice.
Of course, mindfulness and Buddhism is already a well established association.
To summarize this portion of why I recommend mindfulness for almost everyone, mindfulness is accessible to nearly all persons, regardless of religion, spirituality, including those who do not practice a traditional faith at all.
So...why do I recommend it? Because the evidence based and research supported available with regard to mindfulness is convincing and compelling. I recently presented on this topic at The Houston Spectrum Conference for Addiction Professionals. While preparing for this presentation, I had to document and source reasons for therapists to include mindfulness into nearly every treatment plan. I was already aware of the magnitude of the research, but refreshing that data solidified that mindfulness benefits all throughout the lifespan.
Meditation in general, and mindfulness specifically has the following benefits (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Reduced stress
- Reduced stress hormones/chemicals
- Better sleep
- Less rumination
- Less reactivity
- Better mood stability
- Increases brain density/grey matter
- Improves concentration and focus
- Assists with healing from addiction and trauma
- Reduces the experience of physical pain
This webpage has great information:
I’d like to offer you some suggestions and encouragement as you begin to develop a mindfulness habit.
- Don’t expect perfection. The benefit is in frequent participation, not in achieving “success” in individual sessions.
- Be gentle with yourself in meditation; when your mind wanders, notice and acknowledge the wandering and return to the meditation practice you’ve chosen.
- Remember, the multitude of benefits result from regular practice. Your brain is more responsive to regular sessions than long, less regular sessions.
- Developing the benefits of meditation is similar to using resistance training. The benefit to resistance training is after the workout and as the shredded muscle tissues repair stronger than before. This building occurs between workouts. This is similar in process to meditation/mindfulness. The brain develops and tends towards the benefits as you meditate regularly, allowing the practice to change, repair, and positively build your brain.
- Don’t worry or get “stuck” on any particular style, or in making “the right” decision. Just START.
- Don’t expect or be anxious about productivity, insight, or even relaxation during individual sessions. The benefit of meditation is in the practice (brain-change) itself, not the in-the-moment effects. That said, insight and improved mood and stress status can sometimes emerge; go ahead and enjoy when it happens!
There are literally hundreds of resources that can help you begin or improve your contemplative practice. My favorite application is:
** Note, Mindfulness is an orientation and thoughtfulness through which to go through your days. Mindfulness meditation refers to using the mindfulness orientation in actual meditation sessions. I use the terms meditation and mindfulness functionally as synonyms on this page. This not to be reductionistic or lose the nuance of the distinction, but to be efficient on this very simple and introductory page.