Quick and simple usually aren't terms used to describe medical treatments. Yet mindfulness meditation is a fast, easy way to reduce stress wherever you are.
It's often recommended as part of a comprehensive treatment for physical and mental health conditions. It's considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. You can incorporate mindfulness meditation into your routine to improve your overall health.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of purposefully being aware of and focusing your attention on the present moment. Mindfulness allows you to be in tune with your experience — right now in this moment — and to explore with curiosity whatever sensations, thoughts and emotions are present without expectations or judgment.
During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This focus can result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.
Mindfulness meditation engages the brain. Think of it as a form of brain exercise. Just as physical exercise keeps your body healthy, mindfulness meditation keeps your brain fit. Research has shown that just five to 15 minutes of daily meditation is all you need to begin experiencing benefits.
Many people may think of mindfulness meditation as "sitting on a pillow, being still, with eyes closed." This may work for some, but there are many ways to practice mindfulness meditation.
Practicing mindfulness involves using breathing methods, guided imagery, and other strategies to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.
Sitting and breathing slowly for even just a minute can help.
Mindfulness is a supportive strategy to help manage many health issues. It pairs well with other medical treatments and counseling. It's a simple strategy that doesn't require a prescription or special equipment and can be practiced anywhere. Talk with your health care team about incorporating mindfulness meditation into your life, and see if it makes a difference in your health and general sense of well-being.
This article also appears on the Mayo Clinic Health System blog.