Note: This post is just a WHY, not a HOW. For the HOW, check out this post over here!
Never before in my life have I been so absolutely set in my convictions as I am about the utter, absolute, and stunning importance of developing a mindfulness practice. If you’ve been on the fence about beginning a mindfulness meditation practice yourself, please pause here a moment, breathe, and really receive what I am about to say.
This practice could very well change your entire life.
Why do I feel qualified to say this to you?
As you may or may not know, I am a licensed therapist who also practices as a life and wellness coach. I have a Masters Degree in Counseling with a specialty in Community Mental Health. I participate in regular training to keep my certifications rolling and always try to find seminars and workshops relevant to my interests.
Recently, I decided to take a training on the neurobiology of mindfulness meditation. I’ve always known mindfulness was something healthy people did – but I didn’t quite know WHY it was so important or WHAT exactly it did. This workshop, lead by Dr. Deborah Norris, opened my eyes to some intensely radical information. Dr. Norris has a Ph.D in psychology and psychopharmacology, is author of “In the Flow: Bridging the Science and Practice of Mindfulness,” and founder and President of The Mindfulness Center in Bethesda, MD. These are only a few of her qualifications and job titles; suffice it to say, her depth of knowledge and competency was extraordinary. I’ve never learned so much in 2 days.
Beginners Guide to the Benefits of Mindfulness
I will provide some resources for studies if you want to read further, but for now, I am going to bullet point some of the most important take aways about mindfulness. If these things do not inspire you to begin, I am not sure what will:
- has been accepted as a primary and effective treatment for anxiety and depression for well over a decade
- improves focus, calm, and overall quality of life
- decreases biomarkers of stress and inflammation – C-reactive proteins, interleukin 6, and cortisol (note: inflammation is a leading cause of pretty much all disease)
- invites a sense of personal agency over one’s life
- decreases dependence on substances such as cigarettes or alcohol
- may improve overall self image and self esteem
- consistently shows improved psychological functioning, reduction of stress symptoms, enhanced coping and well-being in cancer outpatients
- can help manage emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndromes and better communicate with loved ones
- can help people with chronic pain decrease their overall sense of discomfort and is now recognized as a first-line treatment in the standard of care for the treatment of pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Veterans Affairs
- improves immune response
- decreases binge eating
- reduces IBS symptom severity
- actually changes the structure of the brain and our genes, reversing aspects of the aging process
- can help us to get better sleep
- helps balance hormones and other neurochemicals
- improves performance in the workplace
- fosters a growth mindset
- does so much more than even these!
These are just SOME of the benefits that I learned about in my 14 hour class, but there are many more. A quick search online will yield massive amounts of studies, ongoing research, reflections, practices and more.
To summarize… Mindfulness is SO important because it allows us to BE in the moment, create a sense of happiness, and heal our own bodies!
Bottom line… Why would you NOT want to develop a mindfulness practice? Even if all you get out of it is a decreased sense of stress, imagine how much more you can embrace and live your life. At 3 to 5 minutes a day, you can begin to feel better, take care of yourself, and make that commitment to living a fuller life – and I don’t mean full in the way of “doing” more or taking on additional stressors. I mean fuller in experience, beauty, and true living.
Are you ready to make a commitment to yourself?
Not sure where to start? Here is a list of ideas and resources to get you started on your own!
If you want to schedule a one on one mindfulness session with me (which can be done in person or over Skype), feel free to contact me at OakHeartHealing@gmail.com and check out OakHeartHealing.com for more information.
Further Reading / Sources
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction for the treatment of irritable bowl syndrome
- Mindfulness meditation for oncology patients
- Mindfulness-based interventions for chronic pain