University of California Santa Barbara

Meditation In Action: 5 Tips For Integrating Mindfulness Into Everyday Life PHOTOS

By Headspace

Mindfulness starts to get really interesting when we can start to integrate it into everyday life. Remember, mindfulness means to be present, in the moment. And if you can do it sitting on a chair, then why not while out shopping, drinking a cup of tea, eating your food, holding the baby, working at the computer or having a chat with a friend? All of these are opportunities to apply mindfulness, to be aware.

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This means that rather than drifting through the day on auto-pilot, not really being fully conscious of the decisions you make, you move from one moment to the next with a sense of calm and clarity in the mind. Researchers have found that most people are caught up in thought for between 30 percent and 50 percent of the time, even while engaged in activities. They also discovered this mind wandering was a direct cause of unhappiness and confusion.

So why not let this is be one more reason to integrate mindfulness into your life?

The mindfulness experts at Headspace describe five situations to which you could easily apply mindfulness on a daily basis. Typically, these are the kind of events where your mind is wandering — but it doesn’t have to be this way. This isn’t about trying to stop thoughts and feelings, but instead learning to step back from them, allowing them to come and go. And if you do find yourself suddenly lost in thought, then no problem at all, simply bring your attention back to the physical senses and whatever it is you’re doing.

1. Mindfulness While Brushing Your Teeth
brushing teeth
The Old Way:Vague awareness of picking up your toothbrush and moving it around the mouth on autopilot, as you wander around the house, tripping over the cat, looking for your keys, mentally preparing for your first meeting of the day, while wondering who’ll play James Bond after Daniel Craig.
The New Way: Being mindful of the feet on the floor, the temperature and the texture on the soles of your feet; mindful of the appearance, smell, flavor and texture of the toothpaste; mindful of the arm moving from side to side and the sound of the brush against your teeth; mindful of each and every tooth and the sensation of the brush against the gums.
Bonus: Not only will you feel calm and collected afterward, your dentist will be happy with you, too!

2. Mindfulness While Taking A Shower
shower
The Old Way:Acute awareness of scolding hot water alternating with freezing cold water until you find the sweet spot. From there, the mind wanders off to the eternal question of ‘What would it be like to win The X Factor?’ as you sing your favorite tune into the shower-head.
The New Way: Being mindful of the need to set the temperature before getting into the shower; mindful of the wave of pleasure as the warm water washes over you; mindful of the smell of the shower gel, soap or shampoo; mindful of the mind jumping forward, imagining conversations that have yet to happen; mindful of the amount of water you’re using; and mindful of the sound of the water coming to a stop.
Bonus: Greenpeace will love you for it, and you’ll end up with a much clearer mind for the day ahead.

3. Mindfulness While Commuting To Work
commute
The Old Way: Standing like a sardine squashed into a tin can on a train or bus, resenting anyone who has a seat, feeling nauseous at the potent cocktail of perfumes, aftershaves, deodorants and hairsprays, while trying to keep your cool as a stroller rocks back and forth into your shins. Alternatively, sitting in the relative comfort of a car, but in traffic so slow that you fear you might actually have to put the car into reverse.
The New Way: Being mindful of your environment and the tendency to resist it; being mindful of the emotions as they rise and fall, come and go; mindful of all the different senses, but rather than thinking about them, judging them, or analyzing them, simply acknowledging them; mindful of wanting to be somewhere else, of wishing time away; and mindful of wanting to scream out loud or put your foot down in the car.
Bonus: The other people around you will almost certainly appreciate your lack of road-rage, train-rage or bus-rage and, you never know, you may even find yourself turning up to work with a smile on your face.

4. Mindfulness While Washing The Dishes
washing dishes
The Old Way: Vaguely aware of the need to avoid the sharp knife, hidden beneath the plates in the water, as you stare out of the window and wonder why Mrs. green coat with the brown shoes from number 48 doesn’t get together with Mr. square jaw with the fancy car from number 32. They’re both single, and they look as though they’d be perfect together.
The New Way: Being mindful of the very first moment when your hands meet the water; mindful of the warmth and the transference of heat to the body; mindful of picking up one thing at a time and taking just an extra second or two to clean it thoroughly; mindful of the passing thoughts and of letting them go; mindful of seeing people come and go through the window without getting involved in any storylines; mindful of wanting to get on and do something else; and mindful of feeling satisfied when you’ve finished.
Bonus:OK, so you have a dishwasher, but you get the picture. And if the dishwasher ever breaks down, you’ll know that it is possible to get some headspace while washing the dishes.

5. Mindfulness While Waiting In Line
queue
The Old Way: As you stand there tapping your foot, arms crossed and jaws clenched, you wonder why everyone else has chosen the exact same time as you to come to the bank. As you flick through old texts and emails on your cell, desperately searching for something, anything, to do to escape your own impatience, you consider the possibility of robbing the place one day (hypothetically of course), absentmindedly looking to see where the different cameras are and, thereby, getting your picture saved to yet another database in the sky.
The New Way: Being mindful of the sense of urgency with which you enter the bank; mindful of your reaction when you first see the line; mindful of your posture as you stand there waiting; mindful of your breath as you focus on the physical sensations in the body; mindful of your reaction each time the line creeps forward; mindful of the tendency to keep looking at your watch, checking your phone or looking for some kind of distraction; and mindful of your interaction with another human being when you finally get served.
Bonus: You can see the queue as an irritating inconvenience, or as an opportunity to take a break. Either way, you know you’re not really going to rob the bank, so why are you even looking?
Want more tips on how to make meditation part of your day? Headspace is meditation made simple, accessible and relevant to your everyday life. Sign up for the free Take10 program to get the basics just right with guided audio programs and support to get your Headspace, anytime, anywhere on the Headspace app.

Meditation In Action: 5 Tips For Integrating Mindfulness Into Everyday Life PHOTOS.

 

Meditation, mindfulness can help improve test scores | GlobalPost

Mindfulness training has been found to help test scores according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara found that teaching mindfulness through meditation helped improve the GRE scores of students.

“Despite the wide recognition that mind wandering is a pervasive and often disruptive influence in our lives, almost no research has established effective strategies for reducing mind wandering,” said co-author Michael Mrazek.

“We set out to find ways to reduce mind wandering and thereby improve performance within educational contexts.”

The study recruited 48 college students and assigned half to a meditation class and the other to a nutrition class.

More from GlobalPost: Meditation can speed up the brain, researchers say

The classes convened four times per week for 45 minutes each.

The sessions lasted for two weeks.

The mindfulness classes focused on breathing and paying attention to their senses in order to not let their thoughts wander.

Tests were given before and after for reading comprehension and memory.

The students who took the mindfulness class showed significant improvements in their scores compared to those in the nutrition class.

via Meditation, mindfulness can help improve test scores | GlobalPost.

 

Meditation Could Help Students Get Better Grades, Study Finds

Want to do well on that upcoming test? Consider a little meditation, a new study in the journal Mindfulness suggests.

Researchers from George Mason University and the University of Illinois conducted their study on college students in a psychology class. Some of the students were shown how to meditate before listening to a lecture, while others didn’t meditate before the lecture. Then, after the lecture, they all took a quiz — and those who meditated did better on the quiz than those who didn’t.

Specifically, one of the experiments conducted in the study showed that meditation had such a strong impact on the quiz scores, it was even able to predict students’ passing or failing the quiz.Interestingly, researchers found that the meditation’s effect was even more pronounced in freshmen classes.”Personally, I have found meditation to be helpful for mental clarity, focus and self-discipline,” study researcher Jared Rambsurg, who is a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, said in a statement. ”

I think that if mindfulness can improve mental clarity, focus and self-discipline, then it might be useful in a variety of settings and for a variety of goals.”This is certainly not the first time mindfulness has been shown in a study to help with academics. A study published last month in the journal Psychological Science showed that mindfulness helped students’ memory and reading comprehension before taking the verbal reasoning portion of the GRE.”

Our results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide reaching consequences,” the researchers of that study, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote.

via Meditation Could Help Students Get Better Grades, Study Finds.

 

Mindfulness Meditation Benefits: 20 Reasons Why It’s Good For Your Mental And Physical Health

Oh mindfulness meditation, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways.

Even though the academic research on mindfulness meditation isn’t as robust as, say, nutrition or exercise, there is a reason why it’s been around for literally thousands of years. And we’re starting to get a better understanding of why it seems to be beneficial for so many aspects of life, from disease and pain management, to sleep, to control of emotions.

For starters, let’s define what mindfulness is: A Perspectives on Psychological Science study described it as “the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment.”

With that in mind, here are 20 reasons why you might want to consider incorporating mindfulness meditation into your daily life. And for our full coverage on the topic, click over to our Mindfulness Meditation page.

1. It lowers stress — literally. Research published just last month in the journal Health Psychology shows that mindfulness is not only associated with feeling less stressed, it’s also linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

2. It lets us get to know our true selves. Mindfulness can help us see beyond those rose-colored glasses when we need to really objectively analyze ourselves. A study in the journal Psychological Science shows that mindfulness can help us conquer common “blind spots,” which can amplify or diminish our own flaws beyond reality.

3. It can make your grades better. Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that college students who were trained in mindfulness performed better on the verbal reasoning section of the GRE, and also experienced improvements in their working memory. “Our results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with widereaching consequences,” the researchers wrote in the Psychological Science study.

4. It could help our troops. The U.S. Marine Corps is in the process of seeing how mindfulness meditation training can improve troops’ performance and ability to handle — and recover from — stress.

5. It could help people with arthritis better handle stress. A 2011 study in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Disease shows that even though mindfulness training may not help to lessen pain for people with rheumatoid arthritis, it could help to lower their stress and fatigue.

6. It changes the brain in a protective way. University of Oregon researchers found that integrative body-mind training — which is a meditation technique — can actually result in brain changes that may be protective against mental illness. The meditation practice was linked with increased signaling connections in the brain, something called axonal density, as well as increased protective tissue (myelin) around the axons in the anterior cingulate brain region.

7. It works as the brain’s “volume knob.” Ever wondered why mindfulness meditation can make you feel more focused and zen? It’s because it helps the brain to have better control over processing pain and emotions, specifically through the control of cortical alpha rhythms (which play a role in what senses our minds are attentive to), according to a study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

8. It makes music sound better. Mindfulness meditation improves our focused engagement in music, helping us to truly enjoy and experience what we’re listening to, according to a study in the journal Psychology of Music.

9. It helps us even when we’re not actively practicing it. You don’t have to actually be meditating for it to still benefit your brain’s emotional processing. That’s the finding of a study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, which shows that the amygdala brain region’s response to emotional stimuli is changed by meditation, and this effect occurs even when a person isn’t actively meditating.

10. It has four elements that help us in different ways. The health benefits of mindfulness can be boiled down to four elements, according to a Perspectives on Psychological Science study: body awareness, self-awareness, regulation of emotion and regulation of attention.

11. It could help your doctor be better at his/her job. Doctors, listen up: Mindfulness meditation could help you better care for your patients. Research from the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that doctors who are trained in mindfulness meditation are less judgmental, more self-aware and better listeners when it comes to interacting with patients.

12. It makes you a better person. Sure, we love all the things meditation does for us. But it could also benefit people we interact with, by making us more compassionate, according to a study in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers from Northeastern and Harvard universities found that meditation is linked with more virtuous, “do-good” behavior.

13. It could make going through cancer just a little less stressful. Research from the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine shows that mindfulness coupled with art therapy can successfully decrease stress symptoms among women with breast cancer. And not only that, but imaging tests show that it is actually linked with brain changes related to stress, emotions and reward.

14. It could help the elderly feel less lonely. Loneliness among seniors can be dangerous, in that it’s known to raise risks for a number of health conditions. But researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that mindfulness meditation helped to decrease these feelings of loneliness among the elderly, and boost their health by reducing the expression of genes linked with inflammation.

15. It could make your health care bill a little lower. Not only will your health benefit from mindfulness meditation training, but your wallet might, too. Research in the American Journal of Health Promotion shows that practicing Transcendental Meditation is linked with lower yearly doctor costs, compared with people who don’t practice the meditation technique.

16. It comes in handy during cold season. Aside from practicing good hygiene, mindfulness meditation and exercise could lessen the nasty effects of colds. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Health found that people who engage in the practices miss fewer days of work from acute respiratory infections, and also experience a shortened duration and severity of symptoms.

17. It lowers depression risk among pregnant women. As many as one in five pregnant women will experience depression, but those who are at especially high risk for depression may benefit from some mindfulness yoga. “Research on the impact of mindfulness yoga on pregnant women is limited but encouraging,” study researcher Dr. Maria Muzik, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, said in a statement. “This study builds the foundation for further research on how yoga may lead to an empowered and positive feeling toward pregnancy.”

18. It also lowers depression risk among teens. Teaching teens how to practice mindfulness through school programs could help them experience less stress, anxiety and depression, according to a study from the University of Leuven.

19. It supports your weight-loss goals. Trying to shed a few pounds to get to a healthier weight? Mindfulness could be your best friend, according to a survey of psychologists conducted by Consumer Reports and the American Psychological Association. Mindfulness training was considered an “excellent” or “good” strategy for weight loss by seven out of 10 psychologists in the survey.

20. It helps you sleep better. We saved the best for last! A University of Utah study found that mindfulness training can not only help us better control our emotions and moods, but it can also help us sleep better at night. “People who reported higher levels of mindfulness described better control over their emotions and behaviors during the day. In addition, higher mindfulness was associated with lower activation at bedtime, which could have benefits for sleep quality and future ability to manage stress,” study researcher Holly Rau said in a statement.

Can’t get enough reasons to love meditation? Fine, fine — here are seven more:

See Slideshow:

Mindfulness Meditation Benefits: 20 Reasons Why It’s Good For Your Mental And Physical Health.