Why Is Mindfulness Meditation So Good For Us?

Mindfulness meditation is a relaxation technique that is growing in popularity. It can be as simple as just sitting for a few minutes and being aware of how you are feeling and what you are thinking. A way of being kind to yourself.

I’ve been interested in mindful meditation for a couple of years now and I believe it definitely helps me to be happier and healthier. Lately I’ve fallen out of that habit and I need to remind myself why it’s good for us and how it helps!

Here’s a quote from the ‘Be Mindful’ website:

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. By being fully present in this way – not forcing things or hiding from them, but actually being with them, we create space to respond in new ways to situations and make wise choices. We may not always have full control over our lives, but with mindfulness we can work with our minds and bodies, learning how to live with more appreciation and less anxiety.[1]

That explains to some extent how being mindful can help us to deal with our lives and our feelings in a good way. If you feel like you can cope, you’re likely to feel more comfortable.

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Is there any science that shows that mindfulness helps? There is an emerging area of research on  telomeres. Telomeres are the protective ends of our chromosomes. If our telomeres shorten, our cells and our bodies show signs of aging.[2] Studies show that daily relaxation techniques, such as meditation, help to keep our telomeres longer and our bodies younger.

The enzyme telomerase, through its influence on telomere length, is associated with health and mortality. Four pioneering randomized control trials, including a total of 190 participants, provided information on the effect of mindfulness meditation on telomerase. A meta-analytic effect size of d = 0.46 indicated that mindfulness meditation leads to increased telomerase activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.[3]

How does it do this? You could guess that when feeling more relaxed, your body produces less stress hormones. Too much stress is known intuitively to age our bodies. Mindfulness could help you to engage less with negative thoughts and experiences, find more positives in life and be less stressed. A happier you is a better you.

When we’re worried, we are tightly attached to how we want things to be, rather than relaxing into accepting whatever might happen when we put forth our best effort. When we’re frustrated with someone, it’s because we’re attached to how we want them to be, rather than accepting them as the wonderful flawed human they are.[4]

That’s according to Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. He emphasises the effectiveness of letting go of our ideas of how we think things should be and accepting them as they are. Mindfulness practices can help us to do that.

A more accepting, relaxed state of mind could help us all to live happy, healthy lives for longer. I want make a habit of practicing this for a few minutes every day. 🙂

 

 

[1] BeMindful.co.uk

[2] Wikipedia

[3] A meta-analytic review of the effects of mindfulness meditation on telomerase activity

[4] The Zen Habits Guide to Letting Go of Attachments

 

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