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What are the Mental Health Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness? By Cassandra Steele

The Power of Mindfulness: Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Finding ways to reduce stress is vital for our long term physical and mental health. Over 8 million Americans are living with stress and, with no sign of this statistic letting up any time soon, it is more important than ever to find ways of overcoming stress and replenishing the aura. We have observed the power of kriyas and meditation; mindfulness offers a form of meditation that aims to help restore spiritual health on a daily basis, in the midst of the stress so often present within and around us.

Mindfulness: being present in the moment

Based on Buddhist traditions, mindfulness focuses on internal and external experiences going on at a particular moment. There are certain similarities between mindfulness and yoga. Like yoga, breathing and visualization techniques play a pivotal part in mindfulness, helping to reduce the stress response and replace it with a sense of calm and inner strength. The body scan is a meditation tool that is central to the workings of mindfulness, and is recommended for managing physical and mental stress. For it to be most effective, a body scan should be performed daily, in a quiet space and with as much focus as possible. It can be done alone or as part of a group (with a guide talking through the meditation). Like restorative yoga, the ultimate aim of a mindful meditation is to feel a renewed sense of inner peace, enabling you to acknowledge particular thoughts and feelings and no longer feel anxious about, or fearful of, these things.

Daily practice

Mindfulness is particularly helpful in the lives of busy professionals who hold high-powered, stressful jobs. Such people lead mentally exhausting lives, often full of noise and actions. It seems nearly impossible on a day-to-day basis to ‘stop’ and truly acknowledge what is going on inside and around you. Mindfulness teaches the importance of doing so and helps you become equipped with the mental tools needed to slow down, to ‘recenter’ yourself - even if it’s literally for a moment.

Mindfulness as a way of overcoming anxiety: the evidence

An extensive analysis of thousands of mindful meditation studies has supported the idea that mindfulness can significantly help people who experience anxiety and other forms of mental stress. It is not surprising, then, that yoga, meditation and mindfulness are on the up in America, with Time magazine reporting an increase in mindful practices to 11 % among Americans. If we can keep spreading the word about the huge health benefits of mindful meditation, maybe we can help bring about a more mindful, and less stressed America.

 

By Cassandra Steele


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