Mindfulness and meditation aren ’ t new-age mumbo jumbo ; they ’ re ancient practices that have been scientifically proven to have mental , physical and emotional health benefits . From reducing pain and cigarette dependence to improving anxiety and depression , mindfulness and meditation have been investigated for all different kinds of conditions .
Here are a few recent findings regarding the benefits of both practices , via the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health :
• A small 2016 study funded in part by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health ( NCCIH ) found that mindfulness meditation does help to control pain and doesn ’ t use the brain ’ s naturally-occurring opiates to do so . This suggests that combining mindfulness with pain medications and other approaches that rely on the brain ’ s opioid activity may be particularly effective for reducing pain .
• A 2012 review of 36 trials found that 25 of them reported better outcomes for symptoms of anxiety in the meditation groups compared to control groups .
• A 2011 trial comparing mindfulness training with a standard behavioral smoking cessation treatment found that individuals who received mindfulness training showed a greater rate of reduction in cigarette use immediately after treatment and at a 17-week follow-up .
• A 2013 review of three studies suggests that meditation may slow , stall or even reverse changes that take place in the brain due to normal aging .
It ’ s hard to deny the calming , centering effect of a deep breath and moment of silence . That ’ s meditation . And if you can feel the difference made by taking those few seconds for yourself , you don ’ t need any scientist to prove that it can help you feel more balanced and in control .
Anyone Can Do It
What else is there to say ? Anyone can meditate ! It ’ s as straightforward and simple as it sounds .
You don ’ t need a Master ’ s in philosophy or cool yogi friends to bring mindfulness into your life . So long as you have yourself , you have all the tools you need to begin this work .
It takes nothing more than the will of self and the power of commitment to start , develop and grow into a meditation practice . Consistency is an essential part of mindfulness and meditation . Without a continued practice you ’ ll find it all the more challenging to see positive results .
Getting into a groove with meditation won ’ t happen overnight and it requires the same amount of dedication you ’ d commit to perfecting your jump shot , painting a realistic portrait or writing a beautiful poem . Consistency is key , and little by little you ’ ll grow into a practice that feels natural for you .
It ’ s A Secret Tool Of The Rich And Powerful
Now , I don ’ t know if the gurus who laid the foundation for mindfulness meditation anticipated it being used by Fortune 500 CEOs , Hollywood celebrities and sports superstars , but that ’ s exactly what has happened .
If nothing else , this speaks to the support that mindfulness and meditation can provide to high-level mental , emotional and physical performances . In fact , a number of well-known faces and figures have attested to the value of mindfulness and meditation :
“ It ’ s like having a charger for your whole body and mind .” — Jerry Seinfeld
“ The outside world is constantly trying to convince you you ’ re not enough . But you don ’ t have to take the bait . Meditation helps you resist .” — Oprah Winfrey
“ In moments of madness , meditation has helped me find moments of serenity — and I would like to think that it would help provide young people a quiet haven in a not-so-quiet world . It was a great gift that Maharishi gave us .” — Paul McCartney
“ It feels good . Kinda like when you have to shut your computer down , just sometimes when it goes crazy , you just shut it down and when you turn it on , it ’ s okay again . That ’ s what meditation is for me .” — Ellen DeGeneres
“ I think it ’ s a great tool for anyone to have , to be able to utilize as a tool for stress .” — Clint Eastwood
That ’ s right , even Dirty Harry meditates .
While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess , it ’ s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis . Whenever you bring awareness to what you ’ re directly experiencing via your senses , or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions , you ’ re being mindful . And there ’ s growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful , you ’ re actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain .
But there is another benefit of mindfulness practice that we are all secretly or openly striving for : compassion . Compassion for ourselves and then for others .
As mindfulness shows us the reality of what is , we grow wiser . At the same time , we are developing and cultivating a non-judging mind , which translates into higher compassion for ourselves and then for others .
Too goofy for trial lawyers ? I don ’ t think so .
Joseph DiNardo has been a serious student and practioneer of mindfulness meditation since 1974 under the guidance of Joseph Goldstein , Anagarika Munindra and others .