Blog: Articles on Psychological Wellbeing, Relationships, Brain Health, Counselling and Neurofeedback
Welcome to the blog of Sojourn Counselling and Neurofeedback. Articles posted here are written by our clinical staff and relate to services we offer or conditions we address. We hope they will be helpful to you in some way, whether you're considering counselling for yourself or someone else, gathering information on a mental health related issue, or just want to find out more about who we are and what we do.
Benefits of Mindfulness
posted: Aug. 23, 2021.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an ancient form of mind-training that enables an individual to bring attention and awareness to the present moment. The core attitudes of mindfulness are compassion, non-judgement, gratitude, trust, and letting go (Kabat-Zinn, 2015).
The practice of mindfulness is becoming aware of whatever you’re experiencing in the present moment (thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations), in a non-judgemental, accepting, and compassionate manner. It is essentially another way of being with yourself.
When someone is suffering from anxiety, it can be said that they are living in the future; a part of them is hyper-focused on a potential future threat, and their attention is constantly pulled to thoughts of worry about what might happen. Similarly, when someone is suffering from depression, a part of them is pulled back into the past, where they may have experienced heartbreak, embarrassment, or failure.
The motivational speaker Tony Robbins suggests that “where attention goes, energy flows”. Anxiety pulls attention away from the present moment into the future, and the worry grows as attention and energy are directed towards the potential threat. Likewise, depression drains energy from the present moment if an individual struggles to move past regrets or heartbreak, and daily tasks can become a struggle when there isn’t sufficient energy left for the day.
How Can Mindfulness Help?
By training the mind through mindfulness practice, attention and energy are poured into the present moment, enlivening the experience of being “present” into one full of richness and gratitude as the practice grows. Investing this precious attention and energy into the present, instead of into the past of the future, has a variety of mental and physical benefits:
Mindfulness is proven to be an effective way of managing depression, anxiety, and reducing stress.
The practice of being mindful of ones’ thoughts and emotions often produces a sense of curiosity about oneself, which is a fruitful garden of self-insight and potential transformation.
Practicing mindfulness helps bring in a sense of inner spaciousness, which has been demonstrated to help reduce emotion reactivity and help regulate emotions. Instead of being annoyed by a family member and immediately reacting out of anger, mindfulness practice helps to introduce a little bit of space between the trigger and the internal reaction of irritation, which can help empower individuals to choose their own response, rather than simply reacting from their emotions.
While mindfulness training has many psychological benefits, it can also reduce blood pressure, cortisol levels and help balance out the nervous system with mindful attention to the natural rhythms of the body.
A study using brain scans to estimate brain age found that individuals who practice mindfulness regularly for a period of 10 years or more had a brain age that was 8 years younger than a control group by the age of 50 (Luders, 2014). This finding sparked a lot of research on the neurological effects of mindfulness practice, indicating that mindfulness helps down-regulate neural pathways related to past memories and threat detection, opening up more resources for the present moment (Villamil et al, 2019).
If you are interested to learn mindfulness meditation, Sojourn is offering a 10-week mindfulness group beginning September 14th, 2021. For more information, please contact one of the facilitators, Andrew Phillipps. To register online, head over to our booking site.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2015). Mindfulness. Mindfulness, 6(6), 1481-1483.
Luders, E. (2014). Exploring age‐related brain degeneration in meditation practitioners. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1307(1), 82-88.
Villamil, A., Vogel, T., Weisbaum, E., & Siegel, D. (2019). Cultivating well-being through the three pillars of mind training: understanding how training the mind improves physiological and psychological well-being. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine, 4(1), 1-1.