What is “Mindfulness” and what are its benefits?

Mindfulness means presence of mind or to engage in reflection

‘Mindfulness’ is a popular word we see nowadays daily in print and visual media.  We also hear it being used in various contexts such as living, eating, sleeping, exercise and weight management.  So, what is Mindfulness and why is it beneficial, especially during current times or uncertainty and fear.

The word ‘mindfulness’ is derived from Sanskrit word ‘smr-ti,’ which is an old language of the Indian subcontinent. Some of the translations are: ‘to remember,’ ‘presence of mind,’ and ‘bare attention.’  Often mindfulness is associated with the practice of meditation.  The word ‘meditation’ derives from Latin “meditari,” which means “to engage in contemplation or reflection.”  Jon Kabat-Zinn of University of Massachusetts has described mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

The effects of mindfulness practice on health are now a topic of scientific research and many scientists are actively studying it.   Some of the formal mindfulness programs developed for clinical treatments include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for pain management and stress-related disorders and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for prevention of major depression relapse and weight management.  Results from studies in the areas such as depression and anxiety, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and weight management have been positive.  Mindfulness seems to affect the brain function in a significant and unique way.  Conditions like stress, pain, sleep and even psoriasis seem to be positively affected by it.  Mindfulness practice helps individuals develop skills such as self-regulation and improved awareness of emotional and sensory cues; which are important in helping us better understand our core nature and how we react to stressors and stimulus.  At GOM™, a comprehensive and highly specialized weight management program, “Mindfulness” is at the core of our personalized lifestyle modification program.

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