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Mindfulness meditation is the act of paying attention to the here-and-now without any judgment. The practice is not religious in any way but the very act of having the openness, curiosity and willingness to be present with oneself is an excellent antidote to the stresses of modern life. Mindfulness meditation invites us to stop, breathe, observe, and connect with our thoughts and emotions. Many of us may have practiced a form of it via yoga, but there are many ways to bring mindfulness to life such as through observing art, time in nature, and even enjoying a good meal.
In the last ten years, significant research has shown mindfulness meditation to address a whole host of health issues: such as lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system, increasing attention and focus–including aiding those suffering from ADHD, helping with mental states such as anxiety and depression, fostering well-being and less emotional reactivity, and thickening the brain in areas in charge of decision making, emotional flexibility, and empathy.
So how do you go about practicing mindfulness meditation? Research shows that a person only needs to commit about 5-10 minutes a day to practice mindfulness and reap the benefits. However, the key is practicing it regularly and ideally, on a daily basis. A simple mindfulness meditation is simply paying attention to your breath–the in and out, ebb and flow of what is happening naturally to you now. I recommend being led by someone in the practice of mindfulness and luckily there are many great free and paid resources available to start practicing mindfulness meditation, with apps like Headspace, Calm, and UCLA Mindful, as well as a host of free meditations on youtube.
Kevin Lee, PsyD