Mindfulness meditation consists of focusing your full attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Focusing on each breath in this way allows you to observe your thoughts as they arise in your mind and, little by little, to let go of struggling with them. You come to realise that thoughts come and go of their own accord; that you are not your thoughts. You can watch as they appear in your mind, seemingly from thin air, and watch again as they disappear, like a soap bubble bursting. You come to the profound understanding that thoughts and feelings (including negative ones) are transient. They come and they go, and ultimately, you have a choice about whether to act on them or not.
Benefits of mindfulness
Research suggests that in-person Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs may help manage stress. In fact, a systematic review of 17 MBSR studies found the program to be effective in reducing psychological and physiological symptoms of stress.
A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials for insomnia found that eight weeks of in-person meditation training significantly improved total waking time and sleep quality in patients with insomnia.
Happier, healthier relationships
A study evaluating the benefits of an in-person mindfulness-based relationship enhancement program suggests that mindfulness enhances couples’ levels of relationship satisfaction, autonomy, closeness and acceptance of each other, while reducing relationship distress. In fact, three months after participating in the study, couples were still experiencing these improvements.
Anxiety currently affects about one in fourteen people worldwide. That’s 7.3% of the total world population. A systematic review of in-person meditation training found that 69% of the studies analyzed showed meditation practice alleviated symptoms of anxiety.
Findings suggest that meditating for just four days is enough to improve novice meditators’ working memory, executive functions and their ability to process visual information.
Have you heard of Headspace app? It’s an app that’s built for guided mindfulness meditation.
Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world.
You can try Headspace for yourself and learn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness with the free Basics pack. If you enjoy it, you have the option to subscribe. Once you do, you’ll have bite-sized minis for when you’re short on time, singles to add some extra mindfulness to your day, and hundreds of meditations for everything from stress to sleep.
The techniques used within the Headspace app have been refined and developed over many centuries. Their aim is to cultivate awareness and compassion so we can better understand both the mind and the world around us.
Research onto the effectiveness of the app: