What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness has been found to be a key element in happiness because when we are present, focused on just this moment, we experience a sense of peace and calm, no matter what is happening around us.
The most recent research into the health benefits of Mindfulness meditation confirms that meditation and mindfulness training can cause neuro-plastic changes in the brain’s gray matter. Sara Lazar, Ph.D., the study’s senior author, said this in a press release: “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day.”
While Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism, most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift thoughts away from our usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the peace available in each moment and a larger perspective on life.
Professor emeritus Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, helped bring the practice of mindfulness meditation into mainstream medicine and demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can improve both physical and psychological symptoms as well as create positive changes in attitudes and behaviors.