Stemming from Buddhism, mindfulness is a relatively new concept in the Western world. It began to gain influence in psychology and medicine in the 1970’s and has since taken off in the world of positive psychology.
Awareness and Acceptance in Mindfulness
Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as the “awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Awareness and nonjudgmental acceptance of moment-to-moment experiences are considered potentially effective against common forms of psychological distress (e.g., anxiety, anger, rumination, etc.). Acceptance refers to the ability to experience emotions and events fully, without suppression or extreme preoccupation with the emotions or event. In other words, mindfulness involves noticing emotions, but not judging them as bad or wrong. Rather, noticing that emotions are happening but not reacting to them and not seeing them as reality.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness can be described as a psychological trait, a practice (e.g., mindfulness meditation), a mode or state of awareness, or a psychological process. All types of mindfulness are associated with psychological benefits.1
- Trait mindfulness (the tendency to be more mindful) is associated with higher levels of life satisfaction, optimism, and pleasant affect, to name a few. It is also associated with lower levels of depression, neuroticism, rumination, cognitive reactivity, social anxiety, and difficulties in emotional regulation.
- Mindfulness meditation is associated with higher levels of self-compassion, emotion regulation and sense of wellbeing, as well as lower levels of rumination, thought suppression, and fear of emotion. Additionally, the more you meditate, the more benefits you can reap from mindfulness.
- Psychological interventions such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) reduce anxiety, depression, anger, rumination, and general psychological distress. It can also increase positive affect, empathy, forgiveness, self-compassion, and life satisfaction.
You Can Be More Mindful
Everyone can be more mindful. If you are paying attention to what is happening right now, you are being mindful. Staying focused on the present moment, rather than ruminating about the past, or becoming anxious about the future, can increase positive mood and make it less likely that you will be swept away by emotions. This allows people to feel more connected and start living life more fully. While mindfulness may be hard at first, the more it is practiced, the easier it will become to stay focused on the present, making it possible for you to reap the benefits.
TLC-VR is here to help you learn mindfulness techniques and practices that you can incorporate into your everyday life. Our licensed psychologists are well versed in mindfulness and can help you along your journey to happiness and resiliency.
- Keng, S. L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies. Clinical psychology review, 31(6), 1041-1056.
Written by Elizabeth McCabe