There is evidence that the regular use of mindfulness-based therapy can improve the way your brain works. A 2010 study reported that participants who underwent a standard eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program showed beneficial changes in several regions of the brain. The areas affected were involved with memory, emotion regulation, learning, perspective, and self-referential processing.
Mindfulness helps you focus on the moment while remaining open and aware of your thoughts and feelings. Most people find it helpful to have a specific goal that they are working towards while practicing mindfulness. This can include meditation, completing an activity, or focusing on a particular thought. By regularly using mindfulness, you can train your brain to focus on the present automatically, leading to a decrease in your stress levels that happens without even thinking about it.
Most people deal with unwanted negative thought patterns that leave you feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT, can help you reframe your relationship with your thoughts and feelings by encouraging non-judgemental meditation on specific ideas. In 2011, Duke University in North Carolina published a review of the effects of MBCT on psychological health. They concluded that “mindfulness brings about various positive psychological effects, including increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms, and emotional reactivity, and improved behavioral regulation.”
Practicing mindfulness can teach you how to reframe your emotions in a less destructive light. The coping skills you will learn can be useful in overcoming triggers, cravings, and negative patterns of thought. An MBCT program usually involves meeting once a week for up to eight weeks. Sessions may occur in a group or one-on-one setting and generally last between one and two hours. There will be take-home practice work for each new technique you learn. Your therapist will educate you on the link between your brain and emotional regulation. Understanding how the process works will make it easier to understand the effects that mindfulness will have on you.
There are plenty of ways you can practice mindfulness throughout your day without resorting to sitting in a corner and meditating. During treatment, your therapist can walk you through various methods to help you find one that works best for you. Here are a few examples of ways you can be mindful during a typical day:
By seeking out resources and treatment, you are already making a conscious decision to improve your life. Mindfulness is one step further in the right direction. When used in combination with therapy, mindfulness exercises can provide an excellent source of emotional stability and motivation. Below are a few of the benefits of learning to use mindfulness every day.
You can amplify the effects of mindfulness by combining it with any type of meditation. You may find that in addition to feeling more focused and energized, you also feel calmer and more stable after doing exercises that incorporate mindfulness and meditation. However, it is not necessary to participate in meditation to benefit from mindfulness. You can find out more about the connection between mindfulness and meditation by reading our page on meditation.