My inquiry question is: How can mindfulness help us identify and manage our emotions?
Round 1 research: What does it mean to be mindful? How can it help us in general?
You may often find your mind taking flights – we become engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that took place in the past or might happen in the future. No matter how much these thoughts can lead us to anxiousness, mindfulness can pull us back. (2)
To be mindful means to be aware of what’s happening, what we are doing, and to not be overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. In other words, we are maintaining an awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment (1). Mindfulness is something that everyone already possesses; it’s not something new we need to develop, we just have to learn how to use it (2).
The cultivation of mindfulness began in Buddhism, and this practice benefits us in many ways (1). The following are some of its benefits.
- Mindfulness helps improve our well-being (3).
Being mindful helps us appreciate the pleasures in our lives and helps us fully engage in activities. By doing so, people find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets in the past. They find themselves better able for deep connections with others because they are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem.
2. Mindfulness helps improve physical health (3).
Practicing mindfulness can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. These are all part of our physical health.
3. Mindfulness helps improve mental health (3).
Psychotherapists have been recently turning mindfulness meditation into a significant element in the treatment of the following problems: depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Mindfulness can also help us with some more specific aspects:
- More cognitive flexibility (4).
Alongside mindfulness helping people become less reactive, it may also give people greater cognitive flexibility. Studies have found that people who practice mindfulness appear to develop the skill of self-observation, which “neurologically disengages the automatic pathways that were created by prior learning and enables present-moment input to be integrated in a new way.”
2. Focus (4).
A study has also shown that people who practice mindfulness have significantly better performance on all measures of attention than those who don’t.
3. Possibly decrease cognitive decline from aging or Alzheimer’s (5).
Another study showed that people with Alzheimer’s disease who were engaged in mindfulness meditation had much more robust improvements on cognitive scores than other groups that engaged in cognitive stimulation therapy, relaxation training, or no treatment. Other research data also suggests that mindfulness may mitigate the cognitive decline, possibly due to its effects on memory, attention, processing, and executive functioning.