30 Powerful Benefits of Mindfulness for Your Life
- Created: 19 March 2019 19 March 2019
By now, you’ve probably heard about mindfulness many times, and as you’ve clicked on this article, you’re likely curious about the many benefits it can bring to your life.
But first things first, mindfulness is not magic. It’s not a fix-all solution, rather, it’s one of the many tools we can use to design the lifestyle we want and a means to take charge of our lives.
The good news is, mindfulness is accessible. Sitting cross-legged on a remote island getaway is nice, but not a necessity to mindfulness. You can certainly learn a thing or two on a meditation retreat, but you don’t need to wait to be in one to begin because you already have all the key ingredients for a successful practice: you, your time, and commitment.
Simply defined, Mindfulness is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. There are many types of mindfulness exercises, like breathwork, body scanning and meditation, but for now, let us focus on its 30 most powerful benefits to see if mindfulness is for you. You can read them all or feel free to head to the benefit that resonates with your needs right now:
1. Mindfulness for self-awareness
The most apparent benefit of mindfulness practice is gaining a greater sense of self-awareness. Our natural disposition drives us to be curious about ourselves and how we respond to the world around us. From the Greek aphorism, ‘know thyself’, to our everyday introspection of life, we have always searched for our place in the universe.
Self-awareness, by definition, is our conscious knowledge of our own character and feelings. In a practical sense, self-awareness helps us know why we do what we do, our values, and beliefs.
Mindfulness as a practice encourages us to acknowledge our strengths and limitations without judgement. By becoming self-aware, we are able to realise our potential and recognise opportunities where we can thrive.
2. Mindfulness to deal with stress
Stress is inevitable as it is a natural part of life, but we can always control how we react to it.
We practice mindfulness to observe non-judgmentally and stay fully in the present. Being in this state grounds us, giving us the space to choose how to respond to stressful thoughts.
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” – Epictetus
3. Mindfulness to improve sleep
Are intrusive thoughts plaguing you during wee hours of the night? With mindfulness, you can take charge of your busy mind and keep you from tossing and turning.
While the ultimate goal is to stop the thoughts from buzzing around your brain, the idea is to acknowledge these thoughts and view them in a different way—as if becoming a third-party observer.
A technique called the body scan meditation can help you process your thoughts and let go whilst focusing on calming any tension in your body.
4. Mindfulness for weight management
There’s no magic potion for losing weight. Real, attainable and sustainable results come from hard work, discipline and solid mental fortitude—which is why mindfulness plays a huge role in weight management.
A growing body of research suggests that a slower, more ‘mindful’ way of eating could help with weight management and enable people to make better lifestyle decisions.
When applied to food consumption, mindfulness includes noticing the smells, colours, flavours and textures of what you’re eating, chewing slowly and getting rid of external distractions like mobile phones or TV.
5. Mindfulness to perform better at work (or school)
A quote that has become popular in the mindfulness world is: “Wherever you are, be all there.” It could mean different things for different people, but essentially, it translates to having focus—mindfulness is, above all, about being consciously present, wherever you are, whatever it is that you’re doing.
Multitasking, or more fittingly, serial-tasking (shifting from one task to another in rapid succession), can hinder productivity at work or in school. If your attention is being constantly shifted, it will cost you more energy and time to complete your tasks at hand.
By being mindful, you starve your distractions and feed your focus.
6. Mindfulness for creativity
A recent study suggests that meditation improves divergent thinking, or the ability to generate new ideas. Applying mindfulness to your creative process makes you more capable of producing high quality ideas and find more effective pathways to solve a problem.
Try this meditation technique before a brainstorming session:
Step 1: Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes, if that’s not an option in your office, look down or un-focus your eyes
Step 2: Take 3 deep breaths
Step 3: Now breathe at a normal pace, noticing the feeling of your breath
Step 4: Begin to follow your mind. Notice what you’re thinking without judging your thoughts.
Step 5: After a set length of time, slowly bring your awareness back to the present moment.
Now, sit, and watch as you get those creative juices flowing.
7. Mindfulness for emotional resilience
Resilience is the capacity to recover from difficulties—it is our way of effectively coping with whatever life throws at us. Some people rebound more quickly than others, and experts say that there is evidence that mindfulness plays a key role in how well we recover.
According to world-renowned neuroscientist Richard Davidson, “well-being is a skill” and continues explaining how resilience, a component of well-being, can be improved through mindfulness meditation practice. He says, “The circuit that’s so key to resilience can be modulated” and adds “However, it’s going to take a while before resilience is actually impacted”. But all the more reason to start a regular practice.
Mindfulness prevents us from catastrophising and turns our attention to seeing the good in the bad. We can’t change the fact that undesirable events happen, but we can change the way we respond to them.
8. Mindfulness to boost happiness
We all have different views of what happiness is. Some say it’s with experiences and not material things that make us happy, but one new research is shedding light on our search for happiness.
An app called ‘Track your Happiness’ by Harvard researcher Matt Killingsworth, revealed that people are happiest when they are mindful of the moment and least happy when the mind is wandering.
In his data, it appears that happiness is dependent on the contents of moment-to-moment experiences. People who focused on their present moment were significantly happier than those whose focus are elsewhere. As we continue to seek external gratification as a source of happiness, we are vulnerable to wishful thinking, depression, stress and other negative emotions.
9. Mindfulness for cultivating empathy
Empathy refers to the capacity to be affected by and share the emotional state of another. It’s an important helping behavior because it helps us understand others and ultimately respond to their needs appropriately. But does mindfulness enhance our empathy? The answer is yes.
When people perceive their own thoughts without judgement, they are less likely to be caught up in them, which helps them become more broadly aware of the present moment, including the possible mental states of others.
Additionally, mindful awareness to one’s own emotions leads to better understanding of emotional process whether it’s of yourself or others.
10. Mindfulness for decision making
Whether big or small, we are faced with decision making dilemmas every day. But how does one go about it successfully?
Well, an increasing number of corporations are offering mindfulness training to their employees as mindfulness can help in being proactive when a decision has to be made.
Mindful individuals tend to adhere less to social pressure and listen more to their inner voice to make the sound decisions that benefit everyone involved in the process.
11. Mindfulness for processing sadness or grief
People cope with loss in different ways and though there are known stages, those who are in grief don’t necessarily progress through them in a lock-step fashion.
Grief can lead to intense periods of sadness and rumination, reducing you to such an extent that you are unable to function. Healing from such an experience entails full acceptance, which can be facilitated through mindfulness practices.
Through mindfulness, we consciously observe our feelings and allow them to simply be, no matter how painful or uncomfortable they are.
12. Mindfulness for better memory
In any form of mindfulness practice, we pay attention to the present not without purpose. Being fully in the moment allows us to actively process what we are perceiving through our senses.
The contrast between hearing and listening or looking and observing makes a world of difference when it comes to memory. In a practical sense, the better listener or the more observant you are, the better you are at memorising names or faces. You are actively listening, not just waiting for your turn to speak.
There’s also promising scientific evidence that mindfulness can actually improve one’s memory. The increase in cortical thickness of the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory has been noted in recent studies, supporting how much mindfulness can alter the brain’s physiology as much as its functions.
13. Mindfulness to support physical recovery
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”
For many people recovering from an injury or an ailment, the process can be both a physical and mental battle. Not only does it affect how we go about our daily lives, but also the way we perceive ourselves.
This is why mindfulness is so important for healing. Through it, we can adapt a ‘recovery mindset’, which puts us in the right position to listen and respect the body and ultimately helping us make better self-care decisions to speed-up the recovery process.
14. Mindfulness for better brain health
Current studies point towards the potential of mindfulness to affect the structure and neural patterns in the brain.
According to a Harvard research, practising mindful meditation for just eight weeks has shown to increase the brain’s grey matter, which can be attributed to improved muscle control and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing or even decision making, and self-control.
The first author of the said research, Dr Britta Holzel comments, “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practising meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life”.
15. Mindfulness to boost our immune system
We can train our brain to boost our immune system. If this seems to farfetched, hear us out: There’s more to the mind-body connection than meets the eye.
According to a body of research, there’s an important link between the brain and immune system. When we are under stress, we produce hormones that can suppress our body’s natural defense. Our parasympathetic nervous system, which offsets our sympathetic nervous system restores our body in its optimal state. But with chronic stress, the parasympathetic nervous system ceases to function, letting in a host of health issues such as fatigue, pain, inflammation and mental fog.
Practicing mindfulness can help calm our sympathetic nervous system—this gives our immune system more space to perform at its best.
16. Mindfulness for heart health
Proper nutrition and exercise have always been the cornerstone for cardiovascular disease prevention, but did you know that incorporating mindfulness into your routine can make your heart even stronger?
The American Heart Association explains, “Overall, studies on mediation suggest a possible benefit on cardiovascular risk”. With our intricate mind-body connection, there’s a strong link revealing that chronic stress is a risk factor for heart attack.
A mindfulness practice such as meditation has the potential to reverse our somatic response to stress, such as elevated blood pressure and rapid heartbeat. Constant mindfulness practice takes us out of a hurried, chaotic mindset and minimises harmful physiological manifestations of stress.
17. Mindfulness to manage pain
Don’t reach for your painkillers just yet. There may be a way to reduce pain and suffering through mindfulness.
Okay, so imagining your pain away may not give you complete relief, but through the practice, you can start to acknowledge it, learn from it and develop the mental stamina to manage it.
In clinical trials, mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce chronic pain by at least 57 per cent, with the more experienced practitioners reducing it by over 90. Medical professionals are now recognising the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation to help patients with pain-related conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigues, migraine and IBS.
18. Mindfulness to reduce anxiety
Anxiety can range from a familiar feeling of nervousness or being edgy, to actual mental conditions with symptoms so severe that normal daily functioning can prove to be a challenge.
Although CBT or cognitive-behavioural theory is a common treatment for anxiety disorders, in which faulty thoughts and beliefs are corrected, mindfulness-based therapies are now being explored.
Through this type of therapy, the person focuses on the bodily sensations that arise when he or she is anxious. Instead of withdrawing from these feelings, he or she remains present and fully experiences the symptoms of anxiety. It works under the premise that by remaining in the present, we learn how anxiety is a mere reaction to mistaken threats, thereby learning to overcome our fight-or-flight response.
19. Mindfulness as a tool for forgiveness
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis B. Smedes
Forgiveness starts with knowing what forgiveness entails. As defined, it is a conscious decision to release feelings of resentment toward someone who has wronged you, Forgiveness does not mean you condone what’s been done to you, it also does not mean forgetting.
When you approach forgiveness in a mindful way, you are able to look at the situation without prejudice, separate the person from the action and recognise that feelings of bitterness or hatred do not serve you.
20. Mindfulness for better relationships
What makes you a better spouse? A better friend. A better mum or dad. There are countless ways to be better at your relationships, whether it’s romantic, platonic or parental, but one thing is certain, being present is crucial to its success.
Being present in the context of mindfulness does not only refer to physical contact but also the emotional aspect of it. If you’re the type who’s constantly checking her or his phone while on a date, you’re not being a good partner.
Mindfulness trains our brain to be present in the moment. It helps us engage with the people we are with and help us be more loving and caring in our relationships.
21. Mindfulness for anger management
The more we try to contain our anger, the stronger its hold on us—this is the problem with conventional anger management techniques. ‘Managing’ anger simply isn’t always the solution. It requires to be acknowledged and processed.
One thing that’s great about mindfulness practices is that it allows you to feel what you should be feeling. It doesn’t deny you of emotions, rather it lets you acknowledge them without judgement.
Through mindfulness, we learn from our anger, from the triggers to our reactions, and in doing so, we gain emotional intelligence. Having this before you release or bury your anger, you get to consciously decide on how to deal with the situation with enough impulse control, which can turn recklessness into something more productive.
22. Mindfulness to build compassion for others
What is mindfulness without kindness and compassion toward others?
A mindfulness practice referred to as ‘loving kindness’ is meant to foster a message of kind and loving intentions toward the self and others.
This technique is often associated with mantras or wishes for something that is universally desirable, i.e. ‘May I be well’, ‘May I be at peace’, ‘May you be well’, ‘May you be joyful’. The introspective and social aspect of loving kindness helps us recognise the inherent connection we have with others.
23. Mindfulness to cultivate self-care
In today’s fast-paced world, self-care is often ignored and even seen as an indulgence rather than a necessity for a well-balanced life.
Mindfulness tells us otherwise. It teaches us to treat ourselves as we would treat a good friend. Just as it fosters compassion for others, it also cultivates our compassion for ourselves. Self-compassion defines self-care habits and involves responding to our own needs with kindness and understanding.
Self-care is not selfish. In fact, one of the reasons why we should be doing it is for the most unselfish reasons—to be of service to others. This rings especially true if you’re a mum, a dad or anyone taking the role of a giver. As the popular saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first”.
24. Mindfulness to help us grow from regret
“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh” – Thoreau
Everyone has regrets. Sometimes it feels like dead weight, slowing us down to move forward. But other times, it helps us grow and learn from our mistakes. With a mindful, self-compassionate outlook, this can be achieved.
Instead of turning them into a burden, mindful self-compassion allows us to ponder without detachment, thus helping us come up with steps on how we can avoid similar regrets in the future.
25. Mindfulness for practising non-judgement
You’ve read about mindfulness, saying that it is the process of bringing one’s attention to the present in the absence of judgement. But what does the absence of judgement truly mean?
Everything we experience, every thought that pops out of our minds is filtered and sorted into categories: good, bad, or neutral. It’s perfectly rational. This is how we survive. It only becomes irrational when the judging mind controls your every action—when it’s good, you grasp for it, when it’s bad, you flee from it and when it’s neutral, you become disinterested and ignore it.
Practising non-judgement in mindfulness allows us to pay attention to our thoughts with purpose, that is to let go of automatic judgment (not avoid it) and see these thoughts as they actually are.
26. Mindfulness to improve focus and productivity
By now, we’ve already established that mindfulness practice can calm and help our minds focus. It is, after all, the act of focused awareness.
Turning mindfulness into a habit, focus becomes second nature to you. Focus is the secret to productivity, not multi-tasking. It might work for some, but come to think of it, do you really do things at once? There’s a monumental difference to being productive and being busy—and that is getting the work done.
If you want to put a dent in your workload, distractions won’t do you any good. In a mindful state, you will know what needs to be done and see the good in delegation instead of clinging to a false sense of control.
27. Mindfulness to help you see the upside to negative emotions
The way we normally process emotions, is we categorise them: good or bad, positive or negative. The problem is, the world isn’t black and white.
Psychologist Susan David, PhD says, “normal, natural emotions are now seen as good or bad. And being positive has become a new form of moral correctness.” We view negative feelings, such as disappointment, anger or frustration as something we should avoid, because they are deemed unhealthy.
Mindfulness allows us to see the good in the bad, the positive in the negative experiences. Bringing purposeful attention to our thoughts, we are able to perceive things as they are, and not what our worried minds tell us.
28. Mindfulness for financial freedom
Mindfulness is all about conscious choices, and that involves how you spend your time and money.
You can attain financial freedom without the underlying feeling of FOMO when you make mindful and purposeful decisions. When you spend your money mindfully, it means you’ve paused to consider its impact on your life and well-being.
It does not always mean you cut back in spending. Sometimes, financial freedom stems from living within your means but making spending choices that truly add value to your life.
29. Mindfulness to boost energy levels
When you’re anxious or making hard decisions, mindfulness certainly comes in handy to help you find solutions and relief. But did you know, mindfulness can boost your energy too?
Stress brought about daily roadblocks in our lives can bring your overall system into overdrive. Fact: Your brain uses more energy than any other organ in your body. Plus, with the amount of adrenaline your body is releasing, stress can wear you down.
In a mindful state, you are less likely to get caught up in rumination and stress, which ultimately leaves your body enough battery to plough through the day.
30. Mindfulness for facing your fears
One thing is for certain, you can’t stop your emotions—more accurately, you shouldn’t try to stop your emotions. What you can do is work with them. An emotion such as fear can be debilitating if you allow it, but it shouldn’t hinder you from doing what you want to do. Such as taking that flight, securing a great job or meeting new people.
As defined, fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous like to cause pain or a threat.
Much like any other emotion, fear comes out of something that is perceived. This is why mindfulness plays such a key role in facing or overcoming ones’ fear. It’s all about perception. Mindfulness allows us to distinguish a false threat from one that is real, and from there be able to decide to change our perceptions.
Everyday life can be so busy and hectic that we rarely pause and just let our thoughts be. There is so much good from drawing our mind back to the present moment that we don’t realise. Mindfulness shouldn’t be treated as extra work or something that compromises our work and family time. It can be done anywhere and even a few minutes a day can have a big impact in so many areas of your life. With these thirty powerful benefits, we hope you make mindfulness a part of you, so you can change the way you think and approach life free from emotional noise.
“Each morning we are born again…What we do today is what matters the most.”
Feeling inspired to start your mindfulness practice? Visit our Spotlight on Meditation & Mindfulness page for expert advice, tips and retreats to begin your journey.