The benefits of 'being in the present'

October 6, 2017 by Maura Hohman, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—When you have a full schedule, multitasking might seem like the best way to finish your endless to-do list.

But the brain actually benefits from focusing on one activity at a time.

When you commit to training your attention and exerting control over your mind, you're practicing . While it has become a popular psychotherapy technique, mindfulness originated in Buddhism over 2,000 years ago.

The idea of mindfulness is that life should be lived in the . In addition to improving your focus, the practice can bring stress and insomnia relief, and pain reduction.

How?

One explanation comes from a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research. The study found that mindfulness can change the concentration of gray matter in areas of the brain involved in learning, memory, regulating emotion and more.

Yoga and tai chi are two mind-body practices that help increase mindfulness along with their physical and relaxation benefits.

There's also , a very focused approach developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He is creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

However, you don't need a formal program to incorporate mindfulness into your day. Here are some ideas:

  • When you start a task, imagine you're doing it for the first time. Be curious. Feel sensations like you've never experienced them before.
  • Focus on your breathing. Take notice as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Follow your breath. It's a reminder that you're alive.
  • When you're overcome with emotion, take a step back and trace the emotion's origin and duration. Mindfulness teaches recognition that emotions are fleeting, which helps to reduce fear and anxiety.
  • Embrace imperfection. Once you understand that the world is filled with it, it becomes less upsetting.
  • Always try to immerse yourself in your surroundings; this helps you be present and connect with the world around you.

Explore further: Yoga and meditation improve brain function and energy levels

More information: The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has more on the positive brain changes from mindfulness and on meditation itself.

Related Stories

Yoga and meditation improve brain function and energy levels

September 6, 2017
Practicing brief sessions of Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation can significantly improve brain function and energy levels, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo.

Meditation recommended for helping attendees 'attend'

September 30, 2016
(HealthDay)—Meditation can allow attending physicians to be "in attendance" in order to heal and maintain personal well-being, according to the American Medical Association.

Mindfulness helps teens cope with stress, anxiety

December 2, 2014
Students at a Portland high school are enrolled in a for-credit, year-long mindfulness class meant to ease youth anxiety and depression and to prevent violence.

11 minutes of mindfulness training helps drinkers cut back

August 24, 2017
Brief training in mindfulness strategies could help heavy drinkers start to cut back on alcohol consumption, finds a new UCL study.

Relaxation techniques better for cancer patients than mindfulness therapy

May 11, 2017
New research has shown that the use of Mindfulness training in cancer patients can produce negative results to their wellbeing compared to using simple relaxation techniques.

Just breathe: Mindfulness may help freshman stress less and smile more

April 20, 2017
Mindfulness training may be one way to help students successfully transition to college life, according to Penn State researchers.

Recommended for you

Levels of gene-expression-regulating enzyme altered in brains of people with schizophrenia

December 14, 2018
A study using a PET scan tracer developed at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has identified, for the first time, epigenetic differences between the brains of individuals ...

Video game players frequently exposed to graphic content may see world differently

December 13, 2018
People who frequently play violent video games are more immune to disturbing images than non-players, a UNSW-led study into the phenomenon of emotion-induced blindness has shown.

Researchers discover abundant source for neuronal cells

December 13, 2018
USC researchers seeking a way to study genetic activity associated with psychiatric disorders have discovered an abundant source of human cells—the nose.

New genetic clues to early-onset form of dementia

December 13, 2018
Unlike the more common Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia tends to afflict young people. It accounts for an estimated 20 percent of all cases of early-onset dementia. Patients with the illness typically begin to ...

How teens deal with stress may affect their blood pressure, immune system

December 13, 2018
Most teens get stressed out by their families from time to time, but whether they bottle those emotions up or put a positive spin on things may affect certain processes in the body, including blood pressure and how immune ...

Increased motor activity linked to improved mood

December 12, 2018
Increasing one's level of physical activity may be an effective way to boost one's mood, according to a new study from a team including scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in collaboration with the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.