What is Mindfulness: Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment. It is noticing our thoughts, what our bodies feeling like, what our ears are hearing, and any other sensory input, like taste (you can eat mindfully), smell (notice any odors or aromas), or touch (maybe you feel a breeze on your skin, or the feel of soft material of your clothes). The other part of mindfulness, in addition to being aware of the present moment, is being non-judgmental about the moment. Essentially, mindfulness is noticing what is happening around us without making assumptions or giving negative appraisals about those observations.
Why Do We Need Mindfulness Training: It is easy to get swept away on a strong current of thoughts and feelings. We lose ourselves, and we lose track of what’s actually happening around us. We might be ruminating about something that happened in the past, or we are frantically agitated about something that might happen in the future, like a test. We are no longer present. These moments can make us forgetful and unaware.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
- Supports stress management and stress reduction
- Helps you calm down
- Reduces rumination
- Strengthens attention and concentration
- Boosts working memory
- Reduces emotional reactivity
- Enhances social and emotional learning
- Helps you make better decisions
Specifically, mindfulness training can help with:
- Observing: Our typical reaction to stress is “bottom-up” attention, which originates in the core structures of the limbic system and evolved to help us scan for immediate threats to our survival. Mindfulness training allows us to shift to “top-down” attention, which originates in the insula, a higher-order brain structure, [and] allows you to shift your attention inward so you can monitor and regulate how your body is reacting to stress, and helps to visualize and implement solutions to stress-producing problems.
- Detachment: If you get absorbed in a negative appraisal, like telling yourself that you are a failure, the neural circuitry responsible for exerting a calming influence isn’t being activated. This leaves the limbic system in a state of constant arousal. Acceptance of emotion without the need to react triggers PNS [parasympathetic nervous system] activation, which in turn reduces activity of the arousal centers of the limbic system.
- Self-Compassion: Compassion-based mindfulness practice increases the density of gray matter in certain areas of the brain involved in learning and memory processes, as well as emotional control, self-awareness, and perspective taking. It also appears that the experience of compassion for oneself and others strengthens neural circuitry responsible for regulating the activity of the amygdala, the brain center involved in producing negative emotions.
Information about Mindfulness Apps:
6 Mindfulness Exercises You Can Try Today: https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/6-mindfulness-exercises-you-can-try-today/
Mindfulness Activities for the Classroom: