Practicing mindfulness gives us an opportunity to take a little mental break from our busy lives. Creating good habits, like taking time to focus on the present moment, can help keep life's stressors from taking over.
A new study from the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals annual meeting suggests that using mindful breathing may even have benefits to our physical health as well. More than half of the participants in the study say mindful breathing helped with their chronic pain, and some used the practice to replace medications, such as opioids.
If you aren't familiar with mindfulness, here are five things you need to know.
We’re talking about practice. We will never get good at anything without practice. Experts recommend finding ten minutes for mindfulness throughout the day, preferably in the morning. Set a timer or alert on your phone to help you create and maintain the habit. Mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “If you can learn how to live in this present moment, then mindfulness doesn’t take any time at all. You’re moving through life, surfing on your breath and handling whatever comes up as you need to.”
The time is now. If your life is busy and you aren’t sure about the timing to start practicing mindfulness, how about now? Jack Kornfield, author of No Time Like the Present and mainly responsible for introducing mindfulness to Western culture, says there is no time better than the present to start your mindfulness journey. Being mindful can open the door to getting more joy and fulfillment out of your life.
Build a Better Brain. Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis can strengthen parts of your brain designed for empathy and self-awareness, according to Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Just One Thing and Hardwiring Happiness. Being mindful can thicken the brain’s cortical layers that help us focus and activate the left prefrontal cortex that keeps our negativity in check.