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  • Writer's pictureHeather Gibson, MA, LMFT

12 Reasons Why Mindfulness is Important

Written by: Katherine Paul, APCC



 What is mindfulness?

If you’re anything like me, hearing the word mindfulness brings up images of sitting cross-legged on a mountain top and sipping tea all while emptying your mind - images that might be pleasing but unachievable in our busy chaotic lives (who has time for that?). Yet according to Jon Kabat-Zinn (founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction), mindfulness is simply paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment nonjudgmentally. That’s it - no fancy yoga poses needed!


How does Mindfulness reduce stress?

It can be helpful to review what isn’t considered mindfulness: being on autopilot. When we are on autopilot, we are lost in our heads worrying about the future or being stuck in the past. We are not in the present moment and the days pass us by without us really knowing how we got home from work or if we had already washed our hair in the shower. While being on autopilot (avoiding or distracting from our thoughts/feelings/surroundings) might work in the short-term, it often piles up to the point where we are so overwhelmed we are burning out, exploding or shutting down completely. If you or someone you love are showing signs of these, feel free to visit our website here to receive help.

Going back, mindfulness is an evidence-based skill you can learn (by yourself or in therapy) to increase your ability to become less emotionally reactive to our thoughts/feelings by just allowing them to “be;” we practice sitting with our difficult emotions/thoughts without getting lost in them, clinging to them or pushing them away. 

When we are mindful and present in the moment, it allows us to better focus on the task at hand as well as capture all the good moments that are happening in the here and now that were previously tuned out. We can acknowledge how we are thinking/feeling in a given moment and tend to ourselves (eating when we are “hangry,” taking a deep breath when we are nervous) rather than simply ignoring our current experience and wondering at the end of the day why we are feeling so badly. 


Why is mindfulness important?

But wait, there’s more! Here are more benefits to show the importance of Mindfulness.


1. Positively Benefits Our Minds: When we are not present (i.e. lost in the future or reliving the past), we are often either worrying or stewing in loss/anger about how our lives did not go the way we wished. Practicing coming back to the present moment reminds us of the good that is in the here and now and takes us away from things we do not have any control over.

2. Enhances sleep: Mindfulness can help us detach from thought spirals and create relaxation by focusing on various parts of our body or engaging in visualizations. Many people use meditations before bed to help them relax and fall asleep quicker.


3. Can Potentially Increase Your Attention Span: Mindfulness is simply manipulating our attention to the present moment and our experiences over and over again. With practice, we are increasing our ability to concentrate and let go of distractions (despite how they “hook” our attention).


4. Reduces Anxiety: Anxiety is our mind’s attempt to avoid things we are afraid of experiencing. If we think of every scenario and create plans for every possible issue, we can avoid the outcome we are dreading. Mindfulness is practicing acknowledging the emotions of fear, having compassion for ourselves and shifting our attention from the future to the here and now.


5. Strengthens Focus: Similar to our attention span, honing our observation skills allows deeper focus and a richer learning of the tasks we are attending to.


6. Can Potentially Decrease Cognitive Decline: Due to how mindfulness increases our ability to pay attention, this practice can help those at risk to preserve their cognitive functioning.


7. Helps Regulate Emotions: Research has shown that trying to avoid or distract from emotions is not only ineffective but makes us think about them more! When we hold space for them without judging or pushing it away, they pass naturally on their own.


8. Can Potentially Improve Your Memory: Have you ever gotten done eating a meal and not remember what it tasted like or the amount you had eaten? When we pay attention to the present moment, we are able to take in more detail and savor them.


9. Potentially Reduces Chronic Pain: Chronic pain is debilitating for anyone who suffers from it; however, the common use of opioids to treat such conditions have created an unprecedented epidemic that points to the importance of finding alternative treatment. Mindfulness is an evidence-based approach to treating chronic pain from a variety of illnesses such as fibromyalgia, migraines, chronic pelvic pain, irritable bowel syndrome and more without the dangerous side effects.


10.Can Potentially Decrease Loneliness: When we are more present and focused during social interactions, we can fully experience the positive moments where we feel connected and warm. Even when we are alone, it’s easier to revisit these memories when we remember them clearly. 


11. Depression Prevention: Some precursors to depression can be rumination on negative beliefs about ourselves as well as getting “stuck” thinking about times where we or our lives have been inadequate. Mindfulness can reduce our worrying/ruminating behaviors by acknowledging we are getting stuck in the past and bring our attention back to the present moment. We can also acknowledge our negative beliefs as just “thoughts” rather than facts when we are engaging in mindfulness.


12. Brings Peace to Your Life: Finally, mindfulness practice often creates feelings of relaxation and peace by practicing not judging ourselves or our surroundings. This does not mean accepting or loving our surroundings but simply seeing them for what they are and nothing more. 


What is mindfulness therapy?

Now that we know how helpful this practice can be, What is mindfulness therapy?

In so many words, it’s a therapist using mindfulness interventions and teachings during sessions. It might look like a clinician leading you through a guided meditation to practice being present with difficult thoughts/feelings/sensations, being assigned homework of a mindfulness walk to connect to our surroundings or simply coming home to the breath when we’re swept away. It could be engaging in self-compassion work where we actively acknowledge our own shortcomings with the warmth we give others or switching from the “doing” mind to “being” mind. If you believe this could be helpful, our talented clinicians (including me!) at Positive Change are a great start to becoming more mindful today. Our specializations can be viewed here.




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