The Science-Backed Benefits of Practising Mindfulness

For the thousands upon thousands of self-improvement trends that come and go like Love Island contestants, there is always one that is proven to be so awesome it sticks and, for a long-long time, that trend has been “mindfulness”.

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To break it down to its most basic, mindfulness is the very-difficult-but-straightforward practice of becoming more in-tune with yourself and the present moment, whether that means paying more attention during your yoga practise, meditation and Muay Thai training, or in more everyday situations, like paying attention to the tastes and smells of that avocado on sourdough you always have for brunch. Basically, it’s a way to focus on you, your body and your life, instead of being distracted (and, dare we say, consumed) by negative things that really don’t matter, like how bad that final series of Game of Thrones was.

But unlike all those other overhyped trends like CrossFit and juice cleanses, mindfulness is here for the long haul, and we’re not just saying that because every other celebrity is talking about it on their Insta-stories, or because so many forward-thinking companies now offer “mindfulness programs” for their employees. We’re backing it because:

  1. The ancient practise of mindfulness has been kicking around for over 2500 years; and
  2. Recent studies prove that practicing mindfulness can actually be mega-beneficial to your mental and physical health.

Sure, the mindfulness that’s being celebrated by science right now probably isn’t quite the same as that done by Buddha, but that shouldn’t take away from this one glorious fact: Mindfulness gives you the ability to change the wiring and makeup of your brains.

And here’s the science behind it all:

Give Your Brainpower A Big Ol’ Boost

Ace At Reducing Your Anxiety

Make Your Heart Happier

Epic At Managing Pain

Focus For Waaaayy Longer

Boast The Resilience Of A Stone Wall

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Your Action Plan To Becoming More Mindful

Think like a child: children are so connected to everything that’s going on in the present, and yet they don’t feel a need to get attached to these things or push them away — they just think with a refreshing curiosity. They let their thoughts be nothing more than eye-opening thoughts, there to be explored with wonder. That’s a great place to start.

Get into yoga: yoga is one of the most incredible activities ever conjured up and, if we had to summarise it in one sentence, it would probably read: a meditation of the body. When you practise yoga, your focus is on the changes happening within your body, the way your muscles are being stretched, your breathing, holding the poses. It’s about being aware of the challenges and the discomfort and embracing them.

Eat mindfully: too many people eat without a care for what they’re eating or how they’re eating it. They eat while on the move (like munching on a breakfast bar on the way into work) or they eat sat in front of the TV, both of which are the exact opposite of mindfulness. What you really want to start doing is sitting down for your meals and really focussing on the flavours and textures and smells, slowing down as you pay close attention to your five senses. It’s about knowing where your food came from (ideally, it’ll be a whole food) and then savouring each mouthful: look at it, smell it, take a small bite, chew it for longer, tasting it all before swallowing — not rushing to finish your plate during the adverts.

Showers are perfect practise: when you do something every day, you do it without thinking. It’s like muscle-memory kicks in and you just cruise through it without any thought. But, more often than not, these “mundane” activities provide an awesome chance to practice mindfulness — and taking a shower is at the top of the list. Seriously. The next time you hop in the shower, focus on it. Be in the moment. Feel the water on your skin, the temperature, the way it runs down your body, the scent of your shampoo, the feel of your sisal bag rubbing as it exfoliates your skin. Really be in the moment and consciously think about everything that’s going on. Trust us: it will be the best shower of your life (unless you’ve ever worked at a festival for eight days where there were no showers, in which case that first shower back will remain the most epic, but only just).

Really-really listen: there is listening and then there is listening. Mindfully. Not judging what the other person might be saying, not preparing a response, not wondering what you might have for dinner, just listening. Giving the person you’re with total freedom to express their thoughts and feelings and opinions. It’s a lost art, and one that is utterly incredible because mindful listening can do so much good: boost relationships, express mutual respect, create a deeper understanding of someone else, help you learn more about life and improve empathy, which the world could really benefit from right now.

Basically, practising mindfulness isn’t just about being more relaxed or less anxious. It is about being in the moment and feeling everything that moment has to offer, whether you’re doing certain yoga poses to prevent injury or just taking a morning shower. It’s about getting away from the noise of your mind, experiencing your body and being at peace in the present. Namaste.

Thanks for reading!

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Copywriter, writer-writer, world-famous treasure-hunter, single-mother of six and a 'slight' exaggerator. Say hi to my face at:

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