Mindfulness aims to help us feel more connected to our emotions, more aware of ourselves both mentally and physically in order to help reconnect with ourselves and relieve stress.
Mindfulness works to address the human autopilot used for daily activities. It works on the principal of giving thought to activities to ensure we are not just physically but also mentally connected to the present rather than mentally planning the day ahead in order to give our thoughts and emotions more space for relaxation.
Why Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation focuses awareness on all incoming thoughts and feelings and to acknowledge them. The aim is to simply recognise and accept all senses rather than acting or reacting to them. This can assist individuals with disengaging, or “Decentering” themselves, from self-criticism, rumination, and dysphoric mood that can arise as a reaction to negative thoughts or emotional patterns.
Individuals who have historically suffered from depression can, when they become anxious, be set back to an automatic cognitive processes which may lead to onset of a depressive episode. The goal of Mindfulness practice is to interrupt any automatic processes and help the participant to focus less on reacting to incoming stimuli, and instead accepting and observing them without judgment. In this way mindfulness practice encourages the participant to observe the potential onset of automatic processes and to reset their reaction to be more mindful and reflective.
Mindfulness practice may help with reduction of depressive symptoms and, according to some research, may support a reduction in cravings substances of abuse. Addictions interfere with the prefrontal cortex which allows for a delay in immediate gratification. With this interference longer term benefits by the limbic and paralimbic brain region are lost which is related to the reward circuit and which is seen to be involved in drug dependency. Over a fortnight smokers carried out 5 hours of mindfulness meditation and were seen to reduce their smoking by about 60% and reduced their cravings, even for those smokers in the experiment who had no prior intentions to quit. Mindfulness meditation reveals increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, a sign of greater self-control.