Mindfulness: What’s in It for Me?

Mindfulness is a way of being present: paying attention to and accepting what is happening in our lives. It helps us to be aware of and step away from our automatic and habitual reactions to our everyday experiences. ~Elizabeth Thornton

If you’re a regular reader of Micro of the Macro, you know that I often touch on the subject of mindfulness in my posts.  Jon Kabat-Zinn, who studied under Thich Nhat Hanh and co-founded the Cambridge Zen Center, defines mindfulness as purposeful, nonjudgmental attention placed on the present moment.  A more practical explanation, in my opinion, is paying attention as opposed to allowing unconscious behaviors to run your life.  We are such creatures of habit that it’s easy to slip into mindlessness.  Have you ever driven your car home from work (or vacation!) and later realized you don’t remember the drive?  That’s an example of an unconscious habit taking over.

So what does it matter if your life is controlled unconsciously?  Well I’m glad you asked.  The big-picture answer is that by living in this manner, you are sleepwalking through your time on the planet. Each of our lives takes place within a cosmic embrace of love and blessings, if only we take the time to notice.  The sound of crickets, birdsong, ocean waves, a child’s laugh; the sight of butterflies, wildflowers, and a star-lit sky; the smell of blossoming plants; the taste of fresh foods; the gentle touch of a beloved friend: all exquisite details that can be taken for granted or completely missed when we’re in auto-pilot.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~Mary Oliver

But there’s more to that answer.  Living unconsciously means that you miss out on the profusion of benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health that mindfulness offers.  According to an article from the American Psychological Association, over 200 studies have shown that mindfulness is effective at boosting immune function, decreasing chronic pain, reducing stress, and helping with depression.  These benefits, the article states, could be due to changes in the brain’s regulation of emotions, resulting in decreased rumination on negative thoughts.  Whether you meditate, practice yoga, do tai chi, watch wildlife, work in a garden, or evoke presence in some other manner, you may discover that you’re doing wonders for your health and peace of mind.

UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine shares a write-up addressing mindfulness studies that have shown positive impacts on relationships between couples as well as those between parents & children.  Additionally, mindful parenting is . . . linked to more positive behavior in kids, the article says.  The reduction of stress through better emotional regulation seems to be a recurring theme.

In a study from Central Michigan University, subjects that listened to mindfulness recordings were found to have decreased age and race biases as compared with control subjects.  The practice allows us to rely less on previously established associations, the abstract indicates.  To me, this implies that these prejudices can be broken down rather quickly, an idea with great potential for our times.

A US News & World Report article on addiction recovery speaks to the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation for reducing substance abuse, including trials that are linked to reductions in impulsivity, cravings, and relapses.  A hallmark (of addicts) is that they’re very rarely in the now.  They’re either regretting the past . . . or dreading the future, according to Katie Witkiewitz, professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico.  The practice of mindfulness, therefore, could play an important roleHowever, as with most holistic modalities, more research is needed before it can be incorporated into standardized treatment.

Fortunately, research on the power of mindfulness is expanding.  A Mindful Magazine essay examines the directions of a few of the leaders in the field.  Planned studies include exploring the effects of mindfulness on childbirth, neurological development, memory preservation, cellular aging, and inflammation.  Perhaps these researchers are working from the premise that our bodies simply function better when we pay attention to our lives.  What do you think?

Learning to be present can enrich your existence and improve your health on every level.  Awareness of life’s moment to moment offerings can result in big, positive results, helping you to recognize your life’s beautiful cosmic embrace.  From reducing stress to strengthening relationships to helping with recovery from addiction, the benefits of mindfulness practices for you and those you love cannot be overestimated. 

We need to awaken ourselves. We need to practice mindfulness if we want to have a future, if we want to save ourselves and the planet. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Blessings for Presence,

Lisa

74 thoughts on “Mindfulness: What’s in It for Me?

  1. ON EXPERIMENTING AND EXPERIENCING IN OUR SHARED 3DENVIRONMENT
    ◇ – Diamond Hard – ◇
    ◇ Wot I Wrote; just ‘cos I MADE THIS!!!…
    “💜 An Experiment is Neither Successful Nor UnSuccessful EveryOne; an Experiment either Continues or DisContinues…for example Sexual and Romantic Experimentation results in Continued LifeLong Marriage or a Long BitterSweet Trail and Trial of Exes; what an Experiment Does is to Provide an Outcome from Experience and what We Do with that Experience is Entirely Up To OurSelves…there is an Accountability and Responsibility for ALL of Existences; so please Take Care of Others and, Most Importantly, please Take Care of YOURSELF!!! because it’s Necessary to Love YOURSELF!!! and NOT!!! at ALL Selfish…this is In Order To Be Nice to Others WhatEver The CIRCUMSTANCES!!! but Do Set Boundaries and Assert Them either Gently or Aggressively; in Other Words, it’s OK To Be Self-Ish and Self Protecting without Pre-Meditated (Punishing 🤔 ?) VIOLENT!!! Behaviour Be it Physical, Psychological and/or Soulful VIOLENT BEHAVIOUR!!!
    nisi mortuus nec neque nolite vicit 🤭🤫🤐
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    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dear Lisa, your posts get better and better! The opening quote by Elizabeth Thornton is special. And then you quote Mary Oliver’s The Summer Day; her poems are wonder-filled; I must have every book she wrote. Whilst reading your post I’m reminded of a couple of things Bruce Lipton wrote about in The Biology of Belief: the subconscious mind (the auto-pilot) shapes over 95% of our life experiences and its processing ability is more than a million times more powerful than our conscious mind. So taking time to learn to be present is vital for all our futures! Have a great weekend! 💐💐💖🙏

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Another great post Lisa … and so true!
    I’ve learned to practice mindfulness when we were walking our Camino’s in Spain and Portugal – it was like a light going on (in my mind) when I’ve learned how to keep my mind still and just experiencing the moment.
    And also … your beautiful photo’s are a great addition to your post 💌.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Beautiful wise write up on mindfullness Lisa. This is truly meditation in action and these wise teachers you mentioned are all so skilled at their level of teaching how to stay present. You’re pictures are incredible as well! ❣️
    Blessings for a happy weekend❣️❣️

    Liked by 4 people

      1. You’re so welcome Lisa❣️
        It is such a moment to moment activity and not always as easy as it sounds. You nailed it.
        You are a gem and it’s easy to support you❣️💖🌷
        Thanks and you do the same❣️💓💗❤️🙏

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Lisa and Cindy,

      Needless to say, I have enjoyed reading some of your posts and pages and your conversations with your commenters.

      Moreover, Lisa, I really like your quoting Elizabeth Thornton as follows:

      Mindfulness is a way of being present: paying attention to and accepting what is happening in our lives. It helps us to be aware of and step away from our automatic and habitual reactions to our everyday experiences.

      Speaking of being present in the moment with awareness and (engaged) mindfulness, I can see from your long introduction here that you are being present in the moment by “paying attention as opposed to allowing unconscious behaviors to run your life”, which happens to be a topic that I have quite a lot to convey to you in a highly engaging and expansive post. Please allow me the pleasure of reciprocating the tenet, spirit and essence of your post with my special post entitled “🦅 SoundEagle in Best Moment Award from Moment Matters 🔖🏆” at http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/soundeagle-in-best-moment-award-from-moment-matters/

      Since you “often touch on the subject of mindfulness”, please kindly let me know what you think of my said post by leaving your feedback at the comment section of my post, especially if you think that it could be improved or expanded in certain ways. Thank you in anticipation.

      The said post opens with this paragraph:

      A spiritual outlook with a minimalist perspective on life that is conducive to happiness is often predicated on living in the present moment through mindful awareness emancipated from the vagaries of the subconscious and the itinerants of the mind.

      May both of you find this post dealing with mindfulness and “living in the moment” beneficial to you as well as your family in various ways.

      Though the post is very long and encyclopaedic, the navigational menu there can help you to jump to any section of the post instantly so that you can resume reading at any point of the post over multiple sessions in your own time.

      Happy Mother’s Day to both of you!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Love the photos, Lisa, and I’m going to take a look at some of the studies when I have a bit more time and can really pay attention to them. 🙂 Being in nature and really looking at and for things is one of the ways I love being mindful. Thanks for in interesting and thought-provoking post.

    janet

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hi, Janet, glad you enjoyed the post! Nature is a biggie for me, too. I love locating chirping birds, watching ground squirrels, admiring old trees, and sniffing(!) pine needles, bark, and blossoms when I hike. Hope your weather is not yet too severe to enjoy the outdoors! 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My brother and s-i-l took us to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum this morning–left at 6 to arrive before 7 and before the heat. It was a lovely time but I’m glad we went early.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post! I love the additional articles you provided links for as well, especially the one from Greater Good Magazine. I have slowly been adding mindfulness activities to my day and I have noticed many improvements. I’ve been thing about trying tai chi next. Thanks for a lovely read with your beautiful photos!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I made it a goal to be more mindful and 2020 gave me lots of extra time to practice. 😀 It’s a work in progress but I am happy with where I am now. Do you practice tai chi? They use to have a class at the YMCA near me so I’m going to ask them about bringing it back. It looks very intriguing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agreed, the extra time allowed by the past year has been a blessing in many ways. I have not tried tai chi, but I’ve often thought of looking on YouTube for a demo. I’ve read that in China, cancer patients often engage in a “social oncology” involving tai chi. I find that very cool. 🌞

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I knew the mental benefits to mindfulness but I never realised that it had so many physical benefits too! It’s amazing that it can reduce chronic pain. I think one of the reasons mindfulness is so beneficial is that it offers up an opportunity for self-reflection; an opportunity to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses and what we can do to improve them. Thank you for such an informatie and interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

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