What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a skill that improves attention to the present moment and helps increase awareness, focus, curb impulses and maintain a sense of calm during difficult or stressful times. Participants report improvements in overall happiness and increased creativity and performance. An important tool in mindfulness is meditation. This technique involves learning how to pay attention in a particular way. It can be challenging to train your attention, but anyone can do it with practice. Most of us have experienced mindfulness before in terms of a “flow” experience or being so engaged in an experience that we lose track of time. Mindfulness practices can be cultivated intentionally and easily adapted for all ages.
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s capacity to change in structure and function in response to our experiences. Research suggests that just 8 weeks of practicing mindfulness meditation creates changes in the brain, such as increasing blood flow and thickening of the cortex in areas responsible for attention and emotion regulation skills. Increased activity has been observed in areas of the brain responsible for learning, memory, self-awareness, and compassion, and as well as decreases in activity in those areas associated with anxiety and stress. Mindfulness is like learning a workout routine for your brain!