Mindfulness practice can help us to deal more effectively with stress, work more skilfully with our emotions, and to live with more ease and calm.
However, a paradox of the practice is that it helps not to have very fixed ideas about its outcome or to be too focused on results. With mindfulness, we learn to be more present with whatever is happening in our experience, rather than to insist that it should be a particular way. The relationship of welcoming our experience creates the space in which the benefits of practice begin to appear.
There is a wide range of evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness practice. As well as many personal accounts of the benefits it brings, mindfulness has also been increasingly studied scientifically. For instance, the BeMindful website cites evidence that MBSR has produced:
- 70 per cent reduction in anxiety
- Fewer visits to your GP
- An ongoing reduction in anxiety three years after taking an MBSR course
- An increase in disease-fighting antibodies, suggesting improvements to the immune system
- Longer and better quality sleep, with fewer sleep disturbances
- A reduction in negative feelings like anger, tension and depression
- Improvements in physical conditions as varied as psoriasis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome
The BBC report how the effects of mindfulness meditation can be seen on brain scans