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Mindfulness is an ongoing awareness and acceptance of thoughts, emotions and the greater environment in which we live. When someone is mindful, they are aware of their experience at the present point in time.
There are significant benefits of mindfulness as a practice, ranging from improved well-being and enjoyment of experiences to measurable improvements in physical health. The benefits associated with mindfulness has been observed in children and adults.
Mindfulness as a concept is rooted in meditation and Buddhism. However, mindfulness is not a specifically religious concept and can be practised by individuals of any background.
Proponents of mindfulness describe it as the practice of intentionally focusing attention not on events that could happen in the future or have occurred in the past, but specifically on what is going on now, in the current moment.
Being mindful involves accepting what is occurring without judgement. Because mindfulness involves acceptance of things as they occur, practising mindfulness can potentially lower the levels of stress and anxiety individuals experience.
Although therapists are trained in specific therapy models, many implement mindfulness into their professional process. This can have significant benefits for clients, especially individuals with stress or anxiety issues.
When used effectively, mindfulness can help individuals prevent negative thoughts and feelings from creating a “chain reaction” that worsens stress, frustration and anxiety. Many people have a significant improvement in quality of life as a result of using mindfulness in counselling.
Mindfulness has a variety of benefits, from improving mental health and wellbeing to assisting in specific physical conditions such as heart disease and blood pressure.
Study data shows that mindfulness techniques are linked to reduced blood pressure in adults, a reduction in the rate of heart disease, improved sleep and energy levels, and the alleviation of some digestive and gastrointestinal conditions.
Mindfulness also has significant benefits for treating mental health problems, such as substance abuse, depression, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders.