Even just one minute of mindfulness can make a difference in health and quality of life for you and your patients. What is mindfulness? What are its benefits? How do you achieve mindfulness? How does mindfulness help with learning?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness means “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.” Source: Greater Good Magazine, UC Berkeley
What are the benefits of meditating to develop mindfulness?
- Improves mental focus, which may improve productivity
- Reduces the physiological impact of stressors and fosters resilience
- Increases brain gray matter involved in learning and memory
- Increases brain gray matter involved in emotion regulation
- Increases positive emotions; decreases negative emotions
- May help fight depression
- Enhances relationships
- Enhances empathy, compassion, and altruism.
- Boosts immune system
- Improves sense of self and alignment with personal values
Source: Greater Good Magazine, UC Berkeley;
How do I do mindfulness meditation?
Resource: A Basic Meditation for Beginners An online guide listing simple steps, with links to brief audio options lasting from 1 to 15 minutes, that teach how to meditate or remind you if you already know how. By Mindful.org, publishers of a magazine on mindfulness.
How does mindfulness help with studying and learning?
Research. Mindfulness training improves working memory capacity and GRE performance while reducing mind wandering. A 2-week mindfulness training course improved GRE reading-comprehension scores and working memory capacity as well as reducing distracting thoughts during test completion, according to this research at UC Santa Barbara (Mrazek et al, 2013).
Resource: Mindfulness and studying: Describes several ways that mindfulness helps with studying and learning and several exercises to try (Z A. 2018).
Research on benefits for high volume studying: The effects of mindfulness meditation training on multitasking in a high-stress information environment. Research participants reported staying on tasks longer, making fewer task switches, having less negative emotion post-task (Levy et al., 2012) .
- Levy D, Wobbrock J, Kaszniak A, Ostergren M. The effects of mindfulness meditation training on multitasking in a high-stress information environment. In: Vol ; 2012:45-52.
- Mrazek MD, Franklin MS, Phillips DT, Baird B, Schooler JW. Mindfulness Training Improves Working Memory Capacity and GRE Performance While Reducing Mind Wandering. Psychol Sci. May 2013;24(5):776-781. doi:10.1177/0956797612459659. PMID: 23538911.
- Z A. Mindfulness While Studying – Creative Mindfulness Exercises. Helping students, families, and individuals grow – Nobel Coaching & Tutoring. July 19, 2018.
Additional Resources on Mindfulness
App: Mindfulness Coach An app to teach mindfulness. By the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, National Center for PTSD
Video: Mindfulness – Life Is Right NowYouTube video, mindfulness expert and pioneer in its use for pain management and use in medical centers, Jon Kabat-Zinn, talks about what mindfulness is, its benefits, and the brain effects. Time: 7 min 13 sec
Reading: How to Practice Mindfulness Throughout Your Workdayarticle by Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter, April 11, 2016, from Greater Good Magazine. Science-Based Insights for a Meaningful Life.
Reading: Benefits Of MindfulnessA Harvard Health article. Adapted from a special health report, Positive Psychology: Harnessing the Power of Happiness, Personal Strength, and Mindfulness, published by Harvard Health Publishing, 2019