Previously, I have mentioned some psychological and physiological disorders where mindfulness practice has been applied somewhat successfully to treat symptoms and improve the overall wellbeing of individuals living with these conditions. These conditions include, but are not limited to:
- Chronic pain
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Sleep disorders
- Other psychopathologies
Visit the American Psychological Association to read more about the potential benefits of mindfulness.
But what about the average healthy individual? Mindfulness, when applied correctly, has the potential to benefit us in smaller ways as well. In this blog, I will briefly describe some benefits of being mindful, based on my own experience and the ways mindfulness practice has benefited me in my everyday life.
Stress. Every single one of us has and will feel stressed many times in our lives. As human beings, we tend to stress about the “little things” just as much as we do about the “big things”. I have always been overly analytical (ask anyone who knows me!), and my mind was (and still is) great at spinning stories and events out of proportion. While I am generally a laid back person, certain things would almost always cause me stress, such as money, grades, and even my weight. I might still feel stressed from time to time, but since I started meditating, I don’t tend to experience the same mental and physical symptoms of stress. I take each problem, day, and moment as it comes. I focus on the now, which has helped me overcome some of my analytical habits. And through kindness, compassion, and mindfulness, I have learned to love and accept myself just the way I am! (Click here to read my post on mindfulness and body positivity).
Worry. On a similar topic, I have always been an emotional person. I react as easily to “good things” as I do to “bad things”. I worry about my friends, my family, other people, and the whole world. Things that most people would say are “not my problem” still affect me deeply. This makes me worry, even when nothing “bad” is happening in my own life! Mindfulness has helped me to stay present in my own body and keep my mind in the present moment. Above all, mindfulness teaches us to be kind, compassionate, and loving to everyone, and this is the only way to truly help others and make a difference in the world!
Sleep. I know that I am not the only person in the world who finds that as soon as my head hits the pillow, my brain starts going through endless to-do lists, and thinking about everything and anything. Trying to fall asleep when your mind is awake can be very frustrating. Since I started practicing mindfulness, this happens a lot less. There is also a variety of sleep relaxation and meditation techniques that help me when I find it hard to switch off.
Attention. We will all feel sleepy or bored and find it hard to focus from time to time. It is a human habit to look at the clock when waiting for something to end or counting down the days when waiting for something to begin. But everything ends and begins and ends again. Waiting for something won’t make it come faster. Now I find myself looking at the clock less, and paying attention in the present more. Whatever you are doing in the present moment, you are probably doing it for a reason. If you are in a boring lecture, you are probably there to learn and to pass your exam. But if you do not pay attention, then your time is perhaps better spent somewhere else, studying, reading, exercising, or even sleeping. Mindfulness teaches us to embrace every moment with an alert and aware mind. It teaches us to make every moment count, by not counting every moment!
Positivity. I have previously written about the differences between mindfulness and positive thinking. That does not mean, however, that mindfulness does not have the potential to make you a more positive individual. When our minds wander and worry about things from the past, or things in the future, we cannot fully appreciate what is happening in the present. Personally, worrying and stressing less, and paying attention more, has made me more likely to see the beautiful things around me, and be grateful for the positive aspects of my life. Remembering that nothing is permanent and everything changes, helps me accept the “negative” events that are a natural part of human life.
Patience. My friends have actually pointed out that I have become a lot less stubborn since I started practicing mindfulness. I can admit that stubbornness has always been a character flaw of mine, so this is probably an improvement! I myself also believe that I have become less stubborn, and more patient through my practice. Everyday things – long queues, slow traffic, noisy people – bother me less and less every day. Mindfulness has the power to make us more tolerant, more grounded, and more patient with everything and everyone in our day-to-day lives. Have you noticed that when you smile through a situation, it tends to bother you less? And the more you fight against it, the more it bothers you? Staying mindful in such a situation benefits everyone involved, while mindlessness will only fuel your own frustration.
Binge eating. On a more serious note, mindfulness practice and meditation has helped me significantly reduce my binge eating. I have written about mindfulness and binge eating, as well as my own binge eating journey before, but it is still important to mention here as one of my favourite benefits of mindfulness! I believe that mindful eating is just one important step in eating disorder recovery. Treating yourself with love, kindness, compassion and patience is at least equally important! This is what mindfulness has taught me, and maybe it has the power to do the same for you.
Has mindfulness helped you in any way? Let me know in the comments below and subscribe if you enjoyed this post 🙂