There are many reasons why mindfulness has become so popular. While scientific research has shown many physical and psychological benefits of mindfulness, we’ve also watched our students experience such benefits firsthand.
Put simply, mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness of your experience, without attaching positive or negative judgments to it. While mindfulness can be cultivated in various ways, two of the most common are a regular practice of mindfulness meditation and bringing awareness to everyday activities, from doing dishes to sitting in traffic.
According to the American Psychological Association, practicing mindfulness has been proven to bring the following emotional, physical, and mental benefits:
- Reduces stress (Hoffman et al., 2010; Farb et al., 2010, Williams 2010) and psychological distress (Coffey & Hartman, 2008; Ostafin et al., 2006)
- Reduces rumination and depression (Chambers et al., 2008)
- Lessens emotional reactivity to upsetting events (Ortner et al., 2007)
- Enhances immune functioning (Davidson et al., 2003; Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004)
- Improves relationship satisfaction: increasing emotional honesty and transparency and managing the stress of relationships (Barnes et al., 2007; Dekeyser el al., 2008; Wachs & Cordova, 2007)
- Increases working memory capacity (Jha et al., 2010)
- Increases information processing speed (Moore & Malinowski, 2009)
- Increases focus and ability to suppress distractions (Moore and Malinowski, 2009)
- Enhances cognitive flexibility and ability to self-observe (Siegel, 2007a; Cahn & Polich, 2006; Davidson et al., 2003; Davidson, 2000; Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000)
- For therapists and those who provide care for others, mindfulness has been demonstrated to improve empathy, compassion, counseling skills, emotional intelligence, patience, and quality of life (Shapiro, Schwartz, & Bonner, 1998; Aiken, 2006; Wang, 2007; Shapiro, Astin, Bishop, & Cordova, 2005; Shapiro, Brown, & Biegel, 2007; Newsome, Christopher, Dahlen, & Christopher, 2006; Schure, Christopher, & Christopher, 2008; Rybak & Russell-Chapin, 1998; Cohen & Miller, 2009; Cohen & Miller, 2009; Rothaupt & Morgan, 2007; Bruce, Young, Turner, Vander Wal, & Linden, 2002)