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Mindfulness



Mindfulness strengthens neural connections: By training our brains in mindfulness and related practices, we can build new neural pathways and networks in the brain, boosting concentration, flexibility, and awareness. Well-being is a skill that can be learned. Try this basic meditation to strengthen neural connections.




Mindfulness



Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.


Spending too much time planning, problem-solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be draining. It can also make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Practicing mindfulness exercises can help you direct your attention away from this kind of thinking and engage with the world around you.


For more structured mindfulness exercises, such as body scan meditation or sitting meditation, you'll need to set aside time when you can be in a quiet place without distractions or interruptions. You might choose to practice this type of exercise early in the morning before you begin your daily routine.


As mindfulness shifted into mainstream science and medicine, it became a pivotal therapeutic technique; it was integrated into Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, among others.


Mindfulness is one form of meditation. Meditation utilizes various practices to quiet the mind or achieve a higher level of consciousness, one of which is mindfulness. Mindfulness can be cultivated within or outside of formal meditation and woven into any activity, such as taking a walk or being engaged in conversation.


Mindfulness can take place through meditation sessions or smaller moments throughout the day. To cultivate a state of mindfulness, you can begin by sitting down and taking deep breaths. Focus on each breath and the sensations of the moment, such as sounds, scents, the temperature, and the feeling of air passing in and out of the body.


Mindfulness is frequently used in meditation and certain kinds of therapy. Its benefits include lowering stress levels, reducing harmful ruminating, and protecting against depression and anxiety. Research even suggests that mindfulness can help people better cope with rejection and social isolation.


Review studies suggest that mindfulness-based interventions can help reduce anxiety, depression, and pain. To a lesser extent, they can alleviate stress and improve quality of life. However, inconsistencies in the way mindfulness is defined and measured make it difficult to determine whether mindfulness really provides other benefits.


Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing one's attention to the present-moment experience without evaluation,[1][2][note 1][3][web 1] a skill one develops through meditation or other training.[2][4][5] Mindfulness derives from sati, a significant element of Hindu and Buddhist traditions,[6][7] and is based on Zen, Vipassanā, and Tibetan meditation techniques.[8][9][note 2] Though definitions and techniques of mindfulness are wide-ranging,[15] Buddhist traditions explain what constitutes mindfulness such as how past, present and future moments arise and cease as momentary sense impressions and mental phenomena.[6][16][web 2] Individuals who have contributed to the popularity of mindfulness in the modern Western context include Thích Nhất Hạnh, Herbert Benson, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Richard J. Davidson,[17][18] and Sam Harris.


Clinical psychology and psychiatry since the 1970s have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness for helping people experiencing a variety of psychological conditions.[18] Mindfulness practice has been employed to reduce depression,[19][20][21][22] stress,[20][23][24] anxiety,[19][20][25] and in the treatment of drug addiction.[26][27][28] Programs based on mindfulness models have been adopted within schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans' centers, and other environments, and mindfulness programs have been applied for additional outcomes such as for healthy aging, weight management, athletic performance,[29] helping children with special needs, and as an intervention during the perinatal period.


Clinical studies have documented both physical- and mental-health benefits of mindfulness in different patient categories as well as in healthy adults and children.[3][30][31] Studies have shown a positive relationship between trait mindfulness (which can be cultivated through the practice of mindfulness-based interventions) and psychological health.[32][33] The practice of mindfulness appears to provide therapeutic benefits to people with psychiatric disorders,[34][35][36] including moderate benefits to those with psychosis.[37][38][39] Studies also indicate that rumination and worry contribute to a variety of mental disorders,[40][41][42] and that mindfulness-based interventions can enhance trait mindfulness[43] and reduce both rumination and worry.[42][44][45] Further, the practice of mindfulness may be a preventive strategy to halt the development of mental-health problems.[46][47] However, according to one opinion article, too much mindfulness may produce negative effects.[48]


Evidence suggests that engaging in mindfulness meditation may influence physical health.[49] For example, the psychological habit of repeatedly dwelling on stressful thoughts appears to intensify the physiological effects of the stressor (as a result of the continual activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis) with the potential to lead to physical health related clinical manifestations.[50][51][52] Studies indicate that mindfulness meditation, which brings about reductions in rumination, may alter these biological clinical pathways.[50][42][53] Further, research indicates that mindfulness may favorably influence the immune system[54] as well as inflammation,[3][55][56] which can consequently impact physical health, especially considering that inflammation has been linked to the development of several chronic health conditions.[57][58] Other studies support these findings.[59][60][53] Additionally, mindfulness appears to bring about lowered activity of the default mode network of the brain, and thereby contribute towards a lowered risk of developing conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease.[50]


There are several exercises designed to develop mindfulness meditation, which may be aided by guided meditations "to get the hang of it".[8][66][note 3] As forms of self-observation and interoception, these methods increase awareness of the body, so they are usually beneficial to people with low self-awareness or low awareness of their bodies or emotional state, and can provoke anxiety, distress, flashbacks, pain, and even trigger substance abuse in people who are very focused on themselves, their bodies, and their emotions.[48][67]


In a Buddhist context the keeping of moral precepts is an essential preparatory stage for mindfulness or meditation.[73][74] Vipassana also includes contemplation and reflection on phenomena as dukkha, anatta and anicca, and reflections on causation and other Buddhist teachings.[75][76]


The Buddhist term translated into English as "mindfulness" originates in the Pali term sati and in its Sanskrit counterpart smṛti. It is often translated as "bare attention", but in the Buddhist tradition it has a broader meaning and application, and the meaning of these terms has been the topic of extensive debate and discussion.[79]


According to Bryan Levman, "the word sati incorporates the meaning of 'memory' and 'remembrance' in much of its usage in both the suttas and the [traditional Buddhist] commentary, and ... without the memory component, the notion of mindfulness cannot be properly understood or applied, as mindfulness requires memory for its effectiveness".[80]


According to Robert Sharf, smṛti originally meant "to remember", "to recollect", "to bear in mind", as in the Vedic tradition of remembering the sacred texts. The term sati also means "to remember". In the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta the term sati means to remember the dharmas, whereby the true nature of phenomena can be seen.[79] Sharf refers to the Milindapañha, which explained that the arising of sati calls to mind the wholesome dhammas such as the four foundations of mindfulness, the five faculties, the five powers, the seven awakening-factors, the noble eightfold path, and the attainment of insight.[81] According to Rupert Gethin,


John D. Dunne asserts that the translation of sati and smṛti as mindfulness is confusing. A number of Buddhist scholars have started trying to establish "retention" as the preferred alternative.[88] Bhikkhu Bodhi also points to the meaning of sati as "memory".[web 11][note 8] The terms sati/smṛti have been translated as:


A.M. Hayes and G. Feldman have highlighted that mindfulness can be seen as a strategy that stands in contrast to a strategy of avoidance of emotion on the one hand and to the strategy of emotional over-engagement on the other hand.[90] Mindfulness can also be viewed as a means to develop self-knowledge and wisdom.[6]


According to Brown, Ryan, and Creswell, definitions of mindfulness are typically selectively interpreted based on who is studying it and how it is applied. Some have viewed mindfulness as a mental state, while others have viewed it as a set of skills and techniques.[78] A distinction can also be made between the state of mindfulness and the trait of mindfulness.[91]


According to David S. Black, whereas "mindfulness" originally was associated with esoteric beliefs and religion, and "a capacity attainable only by certain people",[92] scientific researchers have translated the term into measurable terms, providing a valid operational definition of mindfulness.[93][note 9] Black mentions three possible domains:[93] 041b061a72


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