Mindfulness Goes Mainstream
07 Jan 2016 5 Minute Read Article by MiNDFOOD
Turning our focus inwards is undoubtedly undergoing a renaissance, with “How to meditate” one of the most Googled “How to” search terms. And today mindfulness, a form of meditation with roots in Buddhist practice that involves “bare attention,” or a non-judgemental attendance to your flow of consciousness, has gone mainstream. Rather than being viewed as the path to spiritual enlightenment, new-wave mindfulness is being adopted around the globe as a common-sense practice.
As mental health remains a global healthcare concern, mindfulness for mental wellbeing has become a key focus for many researchers and experts in the movement.
The UK’s Mindfulness Initiative has helped the Mindfulness All Party Parliamentary Group to carry out enquiry into the role mindfulness can play in public policy. The Mindful Nation Enquiry has produced the Mindful Nation UK report, which makes several recommendations to incorporate mindfulness into the healthcare, workplace, education and criminal justice sectors.
Much research has backed up the value of mindfulness training. A recent meta-analysis of 209 studies with over 12,000 participants, published in Clinical Psychology Review, found that mindfulness-based interventions are an effective treatment for psychological problems, especially anxiety and depression.
Researchers at Stanford and Harvard recently found that workplace stress can shorten life expectancy by up to three years. As the quest for work-life balance continues, more companies will likely follow in the footsteps of Google, Apple, Sony and Ikea and begin to offer employees mindfulness programmes.
Mindfulness is also being applied to our diets, as taking the time to focus on how and what we eat could be the key to thinking ourselves slim. According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, people with low levels of dispositional mindfulness – an awareness and recognition of current feelings and thoughts – were 34 per cent more likely to be obese. The same study also found that low levels of this type of self-awareness were associated with higher levels of unhealthy abdominal fat.
With everyone from school children to war veterans to high-risk inmates practising variations of mindfulness, it seems its practical application knows no bounds.
We’re switching on in order to switch off. The mindfulness tech sector is booming with wearable tech dedicated to monitoring breathing and stress levels and apps are booming.
The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, defines mindfulness as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” You don’t need to be sitting in the lotus position to reap the benefits.
Research has show that practicing brief periods of mindfulness throughout the day can reduce stress and increase overall wellbeing.
According to health experts, viewing stressful moments as situations that you can control and master rather than as threats may help you stay healthier in the long run.
A study in the Journal of Neuroscience has shown that regular meditation could help to reduce pain.
The results of various studies have shown that those who practice mindfulness meditation not only build more neural connections but grow more grey matter too.
Head online to mindfood.com to read more about the importance of mindful eating and achieving balance in your diet in the new year.