The magic of mindfulness

Photos: Thinkstock

Simple, life-changing steps to get engaged and get healthy.

Published: September, 2013

In our fast-paced, multitasking world, focusing on anything for more than a few moments at a time can be challenging. But learning to focus your attention on the present moment can have benefits that affect not only your attention span but also your health. That's why a practice called mindfulness has become a popular meditation technique for everything from stress reduction to chronic pain management. "It's the mind-body effect that's getting a lot of press and research, and for good reason. It works, and there's scientific support behind that," says Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer and world-renowned expert on the physiological changes that occur during meditation.

The concept

Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism. It's about training your mind to focus on the present moment without judging thoughts and sensations. If that seems difficult, think about times when you've found yourself engrossed in an activity, such as dancing, listening to music, or painting—anything that allows you to become absorbed in it. If you can do that, you can practice mindfulness.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »