According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness is defined as “awareness of one’s internal states and surroundings.” Mindfulness as a practice tends to focus on being in the moment. It can be used in therapy to help a client stay present with their emotions, but it can also be a daily activity to help someone stay grounded.
Here you will find articles exploring how mindfulness can help you exist in the present moment and teach you techniques to manage potentially overwhelming emotions such as anger and anxiety.
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Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Mindfulness can have many purposes, one of which is staying in the moment and processing one’s feelings without judgment as they arise. An individual who practices mindfulness may develop an ability to stay aware of what’s happening in their mind, body, and environment. Mindfulness can be learned during meditation, or it can be practiced throughout the day by intentionally focusing on the current moment without trying to change it. Anyone can practice this as a way of life.
Reducing The Urge To Change The Present Circumstances
It can be tempting to try to change things that we can’t control. If a situation is uncomfortable, we often want it to change. However, it can be empowering to practice acceptance when we encounter things that we cannot change. Mindfulness typically involves letting things be and not attempting to influence different outcomes in the present moment. Being mindful often involves slowing down your mind and listening to, processing, and accepting your thoughts for what they are. Instead of analyzing them, you can simply acknowledge them.
You might find that many of the thoughts that you ruminate about are related to circumstances outside of your control. When practicing mindfulness, you may find that you can focus on what you’re feeling in that moment instead of trying to change the circumstances. Radical acceptance can be grounding and helpful, particularly when there’s nothing you can do to change someone else’s behavior or a certain situation.
Scientific Findings On Mindfulness
The scientific literature on mindfulness has demonstrated that mindfulness can enhance our mental, physical, and emotional health. It can also improve our productivity, self-perception, relationships, and efficiency at work.
One study published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry shows that mindfulness can also be a way to implement behavioral change. Specifically, the study found that mindfulness can improve harm reduction in those who experience difficulty with self-injury or impulse control.
The following are some other benefits of mindfulness based on the scientific literature:
- Reduced rumination
- Improved memory
- Reduced blood pressure
- Improved focus
- Reduced anxiety
- Greater cognitive flexibility
Exploring Mindfulness Through Meditation
Some people participate in mindfulness meditation in order to stay in the moment. This is a simple practice that almost anyone can implement in their daily life. Through mindfulness meditation, you may discover that you can be an observer of your thoughts while remaining non-judgmental and calm.
You can practice mindful meditation for any amount of time that you choose and however often you’d like. Many guided mindfulness sessions tend to focus on your breathing, thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without attaching any sort of meaning to them. Engaging in this practice often may help reduce stress levels, increase concentration, and help you feel more empowered.
Absence Of Judgment
One of the most prominent tenets of mindfulness is typically observing your thoughts without judgment. This process usually involves looking at your thoughts and feelings and choosing not to judge yourself for what you’re experiencing. You can recognize your thoughts as fleeting phenomena that arise in your mind. They are not necessarily a reflection of you; they simply arise and pass. In this way, mindfulness may provide a sense of freedom from identification with thought.
Seeking Mindfulness Through Therapy
Many forms of therapy can include mindfulness in their philosophies. These include mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). In DBT, people tend to sit with their feelings and accept them as they are so that they can properly and fully process their emotions. While mindfulness can be a part of other forms of therapy, it may be utilized more frequently in DBT, which often helps people who experience difficulty with intense emotions. Mindfulness-based DBT may help people regulate their emotions and change their patterns of thinking.
If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness, you may benefit from speaking with a licensed therapist who has experience guiding people through the process. A therapist may be able to help you stay focused on the present moment if you experience intrusive thoughts, which can be common during this practice.
If you don’t have time for traditional in-person therapy, you may benefit from speaking with an online therapist. With online therapy, you can speak with a therapist from home or anywhere you have an internet connection. This may feel more comfortable for learning mindfulness, as you can communicate via videoconference or audio only if you feel more comfortable. You can also communicate with your therapist at any time through in-app messaging, and they’ll respond as soon as they can.
Researchers have found in several studies that online mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) can address a variety of mental health challenges. One study published in PLoS One found that online mindfulness-based interventions had “beneficial effects on mental health, particularly depression, anxiety, and stress, during the pandemic.”
Mindfulness is a practice that typically involves staying in the present moment while observing thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness can be practiced individually or during various types of therapy. Research shows that mindfulness can have benefits for both the mind and the body, including reduced stress and decreased blood pressure.
If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness, it may help to speak with a licensed therapist. With online therapy, you can be matched with a licensed therapist who has experience with mindfulness and any specific challenges you’re facing.