Why Mindfulness Matters

Being mindful provides the opportunity to notice what is happening around us and to be aware of our internal response to these events. Mindfulness allows us to discern what is impacting us both from the environment and from our thought processes. It is a chance to discover how our current state is impacting both our thoughts and our behavior. So one might ask, “why is that important?”

An article from the American Psychological Association website highlights some potential benefits of mindfulness, and they include reduced rumination, stress reduction, boosts to working memory, increased focus, less emotional reactivity, more cognitive flexibility, improved relationship satisfaction, enhanced self-insight, increased morality, better intuition and fear modulation, faster processing speed and health benefits including improved immune functioning.

Looking at all of those benefits, mindfulness could be considered as a key to “self-care”. As a society, we tend not to take time for our mental health. Between work or school responsibilities, taxiing children to and from activities, busing to or from work, trying to fit in 15 minutes to watch the favorite sitcom while preparing meals or doing dishes, responding to texts, tweets and Facebook posts in the middle of the night, we rarely take the time to completely detach and recharge.

One of my clients told me that her downtime was the drive to work. A few minutes later, she was telling me about the stressors of driving which included worrying about whether the traffic would delay her, and watching out for other drivers, especially in winter, dealing with work calls or ruminating about work. The fact that she listened to the radio while being preoccupied by all of these concerns adds an additional stressor. That designated downtime was filled with stimuli. It did not seem like much downtime to me. After a few questions about how she was really disengaging, she realized that it did not sound like downtime to her either.

When we are stressed we tend to make poor decisions, experience decreased judgment and analytical abilities. Stress is known to impact our physical health and, over time, it will simply wear us down. When we get caught up in a thought process, we actually may be in a state of learned helplessness. By disengaging temporarily from the thought process about a stressor, we are more likely to find the solution. Now, imagine having that ability to simply let go of your stress whenever you want. By using the mindfulness strategy you can be better equipped to detach from the stressors, regain energy and then address whatever is stressing you from a more productive and constructive perspective.

While mindfulness may benefit self-care, it can help with professional progression as well. Richard Boyatzis is an avid writer on “resonant leadership” and what makes for sustainable leaders. One of the elements that he describes as important in preventing burnout and creating a renewal of passion and energy is mindfulness. Amongst other benefits, Boyatzis notes that mindfulness helps leaders connect with and motivate others. He highlights other factors that lead to renewal, including compassion, hope and playfulness. Being mindful can help restore those factors. Of course, on a more practical level, using mindfulness strategies can also help reduce stress for job interviews, performance discussions and difficult communications with staff or clients.

In summary, I teach mindfulness skills to many of my hypnosis clients to improve their day-to-day functioning and overall health. These skills help enhance the benefits of the session, whether we are working on goals of a personal, professional or athletic nature. After practicing guided mindfulness, it becomes easier for the client to continue it independently. A person only needs 4-5 minutes to practice mindfulness. It can be done at any time throughout the day and is easy to fit into any lifestyle. Mindfulness lessons provide my clients with long-lasting change. You too can start experiencing the benefits of mindfulness and it is easier than you think.

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