Why Mindfulness is Such a Healing Practice

"Many people are alive but don't touch the miracle of being alive." --Thich Nhat Hanh

Be present! Be alive! Celebrate life!

So often in life we get a sense of time passing quickly, oftentimes without our clear awareness of so much passing of time. We can actually miss out on important events by being too preoccupied with life, career, relationships, worries, etc.

Mindfulness is about living in the moment, appreciating all the little moments in life that often get overlooked or ignored. It's about objectively observing our world -- with grace, compassion, gratitude, and acceptance.

To be "mindful" takes the work a bit deeper -- to move toward a way of being (and we are Human Beings) in which our emotions, thoughts, and actions reflect a calmness and a focus on the present moment. The good news? Research suggests that obtaining a mindful brain can lead to a happier and more productive life.

While mindfulness is rooted in Buddhist and Hindu teachings, it does not have any religious aspects to it other than developing an appreciation for cherishing our time on this planet. Elements of mindfulness have been incorporated into several mental health practices, including Cognitive Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, among others.

The core elements of mindfulness are awareness and acceptance. Awareness of things happening in the present moment and acceptance of that awareness and any related thoughts. To be able to do these things, however, takes practice.

Key Elements of Mindfulness

What follows are some key aspects of mindfulness that should be explored and cultivated as you drop deeper into this practice.

1. Being Fully Present. We tend to live in a world in which we think we can multitask, but the reality is we can only do one thing at a time, and if we are going to practice mindfulness, the first thing we have to do is take ourselves off of autopilot and into the moment.

2. Letting Go of Judgment. Our goal, which we may not be able to accomplish initially, is simply to take on the role of an observer. It's learning we do not need to label everything we observe as good/bad, happy/sad, etc. We can simply observe and take note.

3. Being Patient With the Process. The key is trusting the process. You can certainly start mindfulness with an intention -- such as being more aware of the moments in your day -- but don't make that intention a goal you judge yourself against. It takes time to create new brain habits.

4. Trusting Yourself. Take note of your feelings, emotions, and observations during your mindfulness, and trust your intuition about what you are observing. Trust in your abilities to make this practice something useful in your life.

5. Acceptance. As the observer, your goal is not to act or be change-maker, it is simply to observe and accept what you see and feel.

Benefits From Practicing Mindfulness

1. Greater Gratitude. We can often get caught up in the world around us, forgetting the gifts and beauty we possess; mindfulness brings us to the present, to a moment of reflection and gratitude.

2. Stress Reduction. We often live in an almost non-stop world, with deadlines, meetings, and more -- all clamoring for attention; mindfulness slows the world down, and brings calm and peace.

3. Better Health. We live in a world filled with chemicals, toxins, and other elements that can affect our health; mindfulness has been shown to help lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, and improve digestion.

4. Enhanced Creativity and Problem-Solving. We often are moving from one project to another, nonstop; mindfulness forces us to stop, reflect, and perhaps find one or more new perspectives and solutions.

5. Sharper Focus and Better Memory. We can easily get caught up in the people and projects around us, losing focus on key issues; with mindfulness, we have the ability to focus and retain more.

6. Enriched Sleep. We seem to be a society in which sleep is sometimes elusive, as all the issues of the world seem to hit us as we hit our pillows; mindfulness is the perfect tool for calming the mind and the body and preparing for a night of deep sleep.

7. Improved Self-Esteem. We are constantly being bombarded with messages about how we can be better, more successful, thinner; mindfulness has been shown to boost self-esteem, self-worth, and contentment with life.

8. Happier Relationships. We are social creatures, needing love and connections, and yet we often take so many of these relationships for granted; mindfulness helps us not only appreciate all the little things people do for us, it also helps us overlook/downgrade people's flaws and annoying habits.

Final Thoughts About Mindfulness

For me, mindfulness is a combination of meditation, prayer, and gratitude. I try to take several moments throughout the day for mindfulness, but there's no set pattern or schedule and some mindfulness moments are just that -- moments; while others may last 30 minutes or longer.

Finally, for those who like proof, in a review of more than 400 previous studies on the subject, mindfulness was identified as an effective mental health tool for helping most people improve their physical and psychological well-being.

Additional Mindfulness Resources

Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought-leader... helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com.

He is the author of the groundbreaking Triumph Over Trauma: Psychedelic Medicines are Helping People Heal Their Trauma, Change Their Lives, and Grow Their Spirituality and the well-received HEAL! Wholeistic Practices to Help Clear Your Trauma, Heal Yourself, and Live Your Best Life.

Dr. Hansen's focus and advocacy center around true healing ... healing that results in being able to live an authentic life filled with peace, joy, love. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.