BOSTON , MA –Mounting evidence is showing that mindfulness can increase life enjoyment, expand the ability to cope with illness, and possibly improve physical and emotional health. The February issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch takes a detailed look at how learning to focus the mind can be a healthful antidote to the stresses of everyday living.
Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to an experience from moment to moment —without drifting into thoughts of the past or concerns about the future, or getting caught up in opinions about what's going on. One of the more popular ways to practice mindfulness is through meditation, which involves sitting or lying down quietly for 20 or 30 minutes, once or twice a day. The February issue includes tips on how to achieve mindfulness in everyday life:
Pay attention to your breathing or your environment when you stop at red lights.
Before you go to sleep, and when you awaken, take some “mindful” breaths. Instead of allowing your mind to wander over the day's concerns, direct your attention to your breathing.
Find a task that you do impatiently or unconsciously (standing in line or brushing your teeth, for example) and concentrate on the experience.
Make something that occurs several times during a day, such as answering the phone or buckling your seatbelt, a reminder to return to the present — that is, think about what you're doing and observe yourself doing it.
Several studies have been conducted measuring the effects of mindfulness. The February issue translates findings to inform readers about how they can benefit the most from practicing mindfulness.