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What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the skill of bringing one’s attention to the current moment without judgement. Mindfulness is a Buddhist concept derived from Zen, Vipassana, and Tibetan meditation techniques. Though mindfulness has many definitions and approaches, Buddhist traditions describe how past, present, and future moments begin and vanish as fleeting sense impressions and mental processes. Mindfulness has gained appeal in modern Western culture thanks to Thich Nht Hnh, Herbert Benson, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Richard J. Davidson, and Sam Harris. Since the 1970s, clinical psychology and psychiatry have developed mindfulness-based therapy applications for a variety of psychological problems. Mindfulness has been used to treat depression, stress, anxiety, and drug addiction. Mindfulness programmes have been implemented in schools, jails, hospitals, veterans' facilities, and other settings to promote healthy ageing, weight management, sports performance, supporting children with special needs, and as a prenatal intervention. Mindfulness has been shown to improve physical and mental health in many patient populations, as well as in healthy adults and children. There is a link between trait mindfulness (which may be cultivated through mindfulness-based therapies) and psychological wellbeing. Mindfulness appears to help persons with psychiatric problems, including moderately helping people with psychosis. Awareness-based therapies have been shown to improve trait mindfulness and reduce rumination and concern. Mindfulness may also be used to avoid the onset of mental health issues. But too much mindfulness can be hazardous, raising anxiety in persons who are self-conscious or aware of their bodies or emotions. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to improve physical wellness. By continually activating the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, this psychological habit may lead to physical health-related clinical symptoms. Mindfulness meditation, which reduces rumination, has been shown to change several molecular clinical processes. The immune system and inflammation are both positively influenced by mindfulness, which has been connected to the development of numerous chronic health disorders. Other research backs this up. Mindfulness also appears to reduce brain activity in the default mode network, lowering the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The commercialization and over-marketing of mindfulness for health benefits has prompted critics to call for additional randomised controlled trials, greater methodological details in published studies, and larger sample sizes.

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