Why mindfulness works: modern benefits of an ancient practice

Adapted from Buddhist meditation principles, mindfulness is a simple but potentially life-changing practice. Here’s how you can incorporate it into your life right now.

Most of us follow our thoughts like a kitten chasing its toy. We worry about something we said yesterday, imagine what might happen at work tomorrow, obsess about how we look or what others think of us…and on it goes.

When we let our thoughts dominate our lives, we often end up feeling worried or stressed. We’re more likely to react to situations with impatience or frustration, or with feelings of anxiety or depression. And because we’re focused on the future or the past, we miss incredible moments happening right now.

Mindfulness is a powerful technique that lets us clear this clutter and bring greater calmness and clarity to our minds. It involves simply paying attention in the present moment to things as they are, without judgement – and without needing things to be different for us to feel better.

By focusing on what’s happening in the current moment, we don’t worry so much about tomorrow, next week or next year. In this way, we’re more likely to appreciate and enjoy the positive things that exist right now. We realise we don’t have to wait months or years to be happy – happiness is present in the simplest moments of everyday life. And suddenly life feels a little lighter and brighter.

Why is mindfulness a hot topic right now?

Adapted from ancient Buddhist meditation principles, mindfulness has become increasingly popular around the world because it’s simple yet so effective. There’s a fast-growing body of scientific research that shows the huge range of benefits of mindfulness – from reducing stress, anxiety and depression to improving your physical health and wellbeing.

It’s not surprising that so many people are making mindfulness part of their lives, and companies like Google, Apple and Nike are offering courses and classes to their employees. Mindfulness can help you:

  • reduce stress, anxiety and depression
  • improve your relationships
  • better cope with life’s challenges
  • improve your focus and productivity
  • regulate your moods
  • sleep better
  • strengthen your immune system
  • accept and love yourself more
  • feel happier and more at peace.

Mindful breathing: a mindfulness meditation

Here’s a short, simple mindfulness meditation you can do anywhere, any time. Try it next time you’re feeling a bit stressed or anxious, or want to switch off from your busy today. Why not give it a go right now?

  1. Sit upright on a chair or cushion. Close your eyes. Notice where your body meets the chair or cushion. Feel the weight of your body.
  2. Focus on your breath going in and out. Notice it in your nostrils, chest or belly – wherever you feel it most.
  3. When your mind wanders (which it will!), gently and kindly guide it back to your breath. No judgement.
  4. When you’re ready, open your eyes and take a deep breath.

Enjoy – and have a wonderful, mindful day.