Mindfulness is a short 5-10 minute exercise to help a person become more present in the moment of their emotions, thoughts, physical bodies and environment. Many people's thoughts are cloudy like sand in a bottle of clear water that has been shaken up. Through the practice of noticing one thing at a time, such as one's breathing, a thought of gratitude, muscle relaxation, etc. it allows for the mind to clear up, relax and ultimately feel more peaceful and energized.
Who does it benefit?- People struggling with worry, anxiety, fear, OCD, depression, ADHD, insomnia, pain, panic attacks and pretty much everyone else. I say everyone else, because it seems that the average person in Orange County is now showing signs of moderate symptoms of anxiety that used to only be present in a minority of the population. It's now commonplace to see a person who spends every second of the day having racing thoughts and trying to fit too much into their schedules. I am especially concerned for children, teens and young adults whose bodies and brains are developing and they are inundated with the demands of school, social media and endless distractions. I am seeing an alarming rate of the use of chemicals to artificially regulate their autonomic systems in children and adults. I see a vicious pattern of needing caffeine to get going and alcohol or marijuana to relax at the end of the day or week. My hope is that people learn to chill out naturally, as it has benefitted 99% of all of my clients over the years. I have had clients who have told me that it was the first time they had relaxed in years!
The Science– Studies have shown that people who regularly practice Meditation, very similar to Mindfulness can increase blood flow to the brain, electrical activity in the prefrontal cortex and increased cortical and hippocampus thickness/ density. This can cause a person to handle stress better, integrate their emotions/ thoughts and improve learning, memory, compassion and introspection. It also decreases the density of the fight or flight part of the brain (amygdala). This is evidenced when people freak out when their food order doesn't come out right, as though it is the end of the world. The body secretes stress chemicals in the body (cortisol) which can be damaging to the body longer term and cause weight gain!
Train the Brain- The brain can change itself and start to rewire itself from becoming anxious to becoming more relaxed. This process is called Neuroplasticity. "Where attention goes, neurons fire. And when neurons fire, they can rewire." -Daniel Siegel, The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of wellbeing (2007). The more Mindfulness and relaxation is practiced, the more it creates real changes!