One NIH-supported study found a link between mindfulness meditation and measurable changes in the brain regions involved in memory, learning and emotion.
Another NIH-funded researcher reported that mindfulness practices may reduce anxiety and hostility among urban youth and lead to reduced stress, fewer fights and better relationships.
A major benefit of mindfulness is that it encourages you to pay attention to your thoughts, your actions and your body. For example, studies have shown that mindfulness can help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight. “It is so common for people to watch TV and eat snack food out of the box without really attending to how much they are eating,” said Chesney. “With mindful eating, you eat when you’re hungry, focus on each bite, enjoy your food more and stop when you’re full.”
Finding time for mindfulness in our culture, however, can be a challenge. We tend to place great value on how much we can do at once and how fast. Still, being more mindful is within anyone’s reach.
You can practice mindfulness throughout the day, even while answering e-mails, sitting in traffic or waiting in line. All you have to do is become more aware — of your breath, of your feet on the ground, of your fingers typing, of the people and voices around you.
Chesney noted that as people start to learn how to be more mindful, it’s common and normal to realize how much your mind races and focuses on the past and future. You can just notice those thoughts and then return to the present moment. It is these little, regular steps that add up and start to create a more mindful, healthy life.
The concept of mindfulness is simple, but becoming a more mindful person requires commitment and practice. Here are some tips to help you get started: