The term “mindfulness” has been used to refer to a psychological state of awareness. Mindfulness is a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. Mindfulness is a state and not a trait.

Several disciplines and practices can cultivate mindfulness, such as running, yoga, and tai chi, but most of the literature has focused on mindfulness that is developed through mindfulness meditation — those self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calmness, clarity and concentration. Benefits of being more mindful can include:

Reduced rumination

Stress reduction

Boosts to working memory

Focus

Less emotional re-activity

More cognitive flexibility: Another line of research suggests that in addition to helping people become less reactive, mindfulness meditation may also give them greater cognitive flexibility. Meditation also activates the brain region associated with more adaptive responses to stressful or negative situations.

Relationship satisfaction: Being more mindful can help predict relationship satisfaction — the ability to respond well to relationship stress and the skill in communicating one’s emotions to a partner. Empirical evidence suggests that mindfulness protects against the emotionally stressful effects of relationship conflict, is positively associated with the ability to express oneself in various social situations and predicts relationship satisfaction.

Other benefits: Mindfulness has been shown to enhance self-insight, morality, intuition and fear modulation, all functions associated with the brain’s middle pre-frontal lobe area. Evidence also suggests that mindfulness meditation has numerous health benefits, including increased immune functioning, improvement to well-being, and reduction in psychological distress.

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