Mindfulness: what it is, what it is for and types

The anxiety and stress are present in the current generations. The feeling that things happen immediately and that you need to have a solution for everything, ends up overturning a healthier and more conscious lifestyle.

Seeking to relieve everyday tensions and improve the quality of life, the practice of mindfulness is based on Buddhist and philosophical theories, seeking to develop mindfulness.

The benefits are enormous and the best of all is that the practice does not need materials, only dedication!

Are you interested? Find out more about mindfulness in the text below!

Concept: what is mindfulness?

The term has become popular, but do you know what mindfulness really is? In a simplified way, it is a set of techniques that work the mind, helping to concentrate in the present moment. With a simple goal, but not always easy, this practice aims to awaken the awareness of the present moment, including feelings and emotions, so that past and future are not the center and cause dispersion and suffering.

Through academic research at the University of Massachusetts, Professor Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn created a program that aimed to reduce stress. It was from there that mindfulness emerged.

The technique consists of being conscious in the present in an intentional and judgment-free way . It can also be understood as a state of consciousness, in which we have control over our attention and our actions .

Mindfulness can be developed and trained through meditation exercises, cognitive and behavioral techniques.

A study published in Science magazine points out that 46% of the time we are not thinking about the things that are happening in the present. Researchers at Harvard University (USA), who carried out the study, proved that people are happier and happier when their thoughts and actions are aligned.

What is the origin of mindfulness?

It can be said that there are different origins of mindfulness, some of which are more related to meditation and Buddhism, and others to non-religious practices, centered on the East.

While the non-religious field of mindfulness has its origins in the 1980s, in therapeutic practices for mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), the field linked to Buddhism and religiosity was introduced by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Jon, a medical professor, developed the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) technique to combat stress and chronic pain, symptoms that he himself had at the time.

This technique is based on Buddhist and philosophical ideologies and roots, such as meditation and yoga.

In conjunction with Jon, professor of clinical psychology Mark Williams developed Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), one of the Mindfulness clinical intervention protocols.

A member of the British Psychological Society, Mark undertook several clinical interventions to prove the effectiveness of the practice in people diagnosed with depression .

Meaning and definition of mindfulness

The term mindfulness is an English translation of the word sati in Pali (Buddhist language used 2,500 years ago), which means to be attentive, alert .

In Buddhist culture, mindfulness presents itself as an essential path to the process of liberation from suffering.

In Portuguese, we know the technique with the name of mindfulness . This takes up the real meaning of the word, which intentionally seeks to achieve attention and concentration.

What is mindfulness for?

This technique is related to the concept of acceptance and permission to experience the present. In this way, mindfulness aims at concentration, maintaining our awareness at the present time.

In addition, mindfulness aims to develop a skill that allows people to fully relate to all their experiences, whether positive or negative.

Among other characteristics, the mindfulness technique can serve to better deal with physical or emotional discomfort, understand human difficulties and complications, such as anxiety and depression, in addition to assisting in the process of fighting stress.

Types of mindfulness

Traditionally, the practices last 8 weeks and can be carried out in groups or individually. According to Jon, the practice can be conceptualized in two ways, which we will explain further below:

Formal

This type of mindfulness practice is performed in a specific location, with pre-established times and with a comfortable posture.

The goal is to experience concentration and breathing, in addition to perceiving thoughts and feelings, without the intention of modifying or controlling them. That is, allowing yourself to be conscious in the present moment.

Read more: The mental (and physical) benefits of deep breathing

Informal

In this type of practice, the goal is to perform informal mindfulness exercises in everyday situations, for example, when eating meals.

The idea is to be less reactive to what is happening at the moment, reducing suffering and increasing the feeling of well-being.

Is mindfulness part of psychology?

Yea! It is common that, when hearing about mindfulness, the first relationship that is established is with spirituality and Buddhist meditation. However, it is important to know and remember that mindfulness is also based on psychology and can be applied and practiced in this theoretical field.

Regardless of the approach used in psychology, you can use the practice, although it is more common and strong within the cognitive behavioral approach.

It is necessary for each professional to find his axis of approach, however, in general, the objective of all lines is to apply mindfulness as a therapeutic, systematized practice, which aims to make patients more aware of themselves.

Thus, cases of depression, anxiety, OCD , accelerated thinking syndrome and several other disorders can be addressed with mindfulness practices.

Teoria do mindfulness

Psychology develops a lot of studies in the field of mindfulness, having demonstrated that his systematized practice promotes mental changes and improvements to people. Some fields, such as neurobiology, even resort to imaging tests to point out the health benefits.

Thus, the field of mindfulness theory holds that systematic, organized and therapeutic practice can effectively bring about changes in the physical and functional structures of the brain. That is, the way neurons communicate can be positively affected by therapy.

Theoretical studies and observations define this as neuroplasticity. Or the ability of brain functions to adapt to changes in behavior or patterns of experience. Improvement in the gray matter of the brain (related to learning, concentration, memory, emotions) is observed.

Benefits of mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness has beneficial effects on health and well-being, as well as improving symptoms related to stress.

Studies show that the practice of mindfulness is associated with neurological changes, establishing a process of self-regulation in the body.

Among the benefits of the practice, we can list:

Increased ability to concentrate

According to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience , mindfulness assists the brain in processing feelings and emotions.

In addition, the practice contributes to increase the ability to concentrate, being highly recommended for people with attention deficit disorders.

Works memory

Studies show that memory is largely favored by the practice of mindfulness, both when it comes to remembering important things better and when it comes to dealing with bad memories.

As the practice exercises focus and concentration, it is easier to apprehend information, dates, facts and knowledge.

In addition, the practitioner learns to deal with emotions better, making painful memories of the past better processed.

Develops emotional intelligence and self-knowledge

A study conducted by the University of Toronto in 2007 showed that mindfulness practitioners have greater emotional control when compared to those who do not practice.

Mindfulness is recognized for its ability to result in internal developments when practiced regularly.

Improves sleep functions

Mindfulness practitioners have greater control over their emotions and behaviors during the day. This causes brain activity to be less at night, which contributes to the quality of sleep.

According to a University of Utah study, the practice not only works by reducing stress, but by controlling anxiety.

Improves relationships

Studies show that people who dedicate themselves to mindfulness are able to react better to the stresses of the relationship. In addition, they improve the ability to communicate emotions to the partner.

Develops improvement skills

A study by Christopher in 2006 indicated that inserting mindfulness into psychotherapy processes can help therapists develop skills that make therapy more effective.

Reduces anxiety

A survey by Massachusetts General Hospital in 2013 assigned a group of people to practice mindfulness for 8 weeks. After the stipulated period, there was a significant reduction in the anxiety of these patients.

Studies that have followed patients point out that the practice is able to improve symptoms of anxiety in people with isolated conditions or anxiety disorders.

That is, the benefits include those who suffer from sporadic agitations and also those who need monitoring for the condition.

In general, it is possible to notice improvements already in the first sessions.

Improves body satisfaction

We know that body dissatisfaction is a recurring complaint and a source of suffering, especially among women.

A study carried out with a group of women guided the introduction of mindfulness in the routine. After the 3-month period, the participants showed a considerable improvement related to self-pity and body appreciation.

Develops resilience and social skills

One study found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children improved participants’ emotional and social resilience.

In addition, it was possible to notice a reduction in attention problems, anxiety and problematic behaviors.

Assists in immunity

Stress is one of the factors that is closely associated with changes in immunity. People with high levels of stress, tiring routines and mood swings tend to suffer from more infections or illnesses due to low immunity.

As the practice of mindfulness helps in the management of emotions, teaching the practitioner to deal better with feelings and, therefore, reduce stress, immunity can be benefited and strengthened.

How does psychology work with mindfulness?

When we are suffering from hurts or pains, experiencing intense and constant emotions, we need to be open-hearted and non-judgmental in order to understand the moment we live in.

The practice of mindfulness allows us to accept experiences as they are in the present, and can then contribute to psychotherapy. This is because accepting moments and situations is a requirement for the therapeutic process.

Within psychology, the mindfulness technique can be considered as a process of awareness, which helps in resourcefulness and emotional intelligence capacity.

Several psychology authors conceptualize mindfulness as a set of skills and aptitudes that contribute to health and well-being.

In addition, this practice can lead to learning that contributes to the individual’s resourcefulness in complicated situations, that is, the person learns to respond to problems in a more reflective way.

Mindfulness is therefore increasingly being incorporated into psychotherapeutic interventions.

Thoughts, sensations and emotions begin to be perceived as events in the mind, without the person necessarily identifying with them, judging or reacting with a habitual and automatic pattern.

Mindfulness and meditation

There are more than 500 types of meditation, most of which aim at self-knowledge and serenity.

In general terms, mindfulness can be considered a type of meditation that was directed and thought for Western culture, that is, people with a faster pace of life, with little time to dedicate to practice.

Mindfulness emerges as a fusion between traditional meditation techniques, aiming to achieve focus, concentration and mindfulness.

Meditations, on the other hand, include a set of techniques, including mindfulness, with repetition of mantras, contemplation and awareness of the present moment.

If you are looking for a practice that provides self-knowledge, focused on inner peace, tranquility and love, mindfulness may seem more attractive. This is because, the technique aims to extend the state of mindfulness.

Mindfulness to lose weight

The technique can be used to change the habits related to food, because when analyzing the food, the smells, the colors and paying attention to the flavor, you consequently end up enjoying much more of what you are eating.

In addition, when we eat slowly and enjoy food, our body realizes that it is full and, consequently, we eat less.

Start to realize at what times you eat. Is it from hunger or just out of will? Adding this habit to your routine can also help you lose those extra pounds.

Exercises: how to do?

Although it may seem simple to practice mindfulness, it requires real and continuous work to be able to perceive an evolution.

It is necessary to set aside time every day so that the practice becomes part of your routine and, thus, it becomes easier to perform it. To assist you in this process, we have brought you step by step on how to start developing mindfulness. Check out!

  1. Sit down . It is important to be in a place that is calm and comfortable for you;
  2. Set a practice time.  If you’re starting out, the cool thing is to stipulate shorter periods, like 5 or 10 minutes;
  3. Pay attention to your body . The position is indifferent, as long as you are stable and comfortable;
  4. Feel your breath . Notice your body’s movements as the air enters and exits. Note the importance of that moment;
  5. Realize when your mind wanders. Inevitably, your attention will end up reaching other thoughts. When you realize this, understand the reason and return your concentration to the previous moment;
  6. Be kind to yourself . Don’t be judging yourself or blaming yourself as your thoughts are lost. Understand that it is part of the process and that the important thing is to persist in mindfulness.

Mindfulness for beginners

The practice of mindfulness does not require materials or instruments to perform it. However, it requires patience and caution with judgments.

Therefore, we bring some tips for those who want to get started, but who still have some doubts.

  • How to shut up the mind? Mindfulness practice does not have this goal. The idea is to pay attention to what is being done at the moment, without judgment. Just realizing what is being done and what it is doing to you;
  • What if I get distracted? This happens a lot when we are starting, because our mind is filled with thoughts, situations or needs. Don’t blame yourself for that, it’s part of the process. The important thing at that point is to turn your attention again, like a resumption, over and over again. Focusing on the breath can help in this process.

Applications

These days, there are a variety of mindfulness and mindfulness apps with the promise of fighting anxiety, improving sleep, improving focus and more.

Most of these apps are free in the basic version, but with a huge range of advanced practices in the premium version.

Thinking about it, we brought some options for you to test and check which one is right for you! Take a look:

Stop, breathe & think

Available for iOS and Android, this app has a section designed for people who want to learn more about mindfulness and meditation.

It encourages you to evaluate your day, write down your emotions and then immediately recommends meditation and yoga videos focused on exactly the moment you are in.

Calm

In the free version, this app has 25 basic practices of mindfulness, with different durations, ranging from 3 minutes to half an hour.

In addition, the application has relaxation techniques and about 100 free tracks to help you relax and sleep better. It is available for iOS and Android.

Lojong

This application aims to present guided practices for beginners, always with the base and support of teachers.

In addition, the app seeks to connect people with teachers and groups in their cities so that they can develop and advance practices.

It is available for iOS and Android.

Meditation studio

The meditation studio is an application available for iOS and Android, which counts on the guidance of Dr. Elisha Goldstein, a psychologist who assists in the process of knowing breath, compassion and calm.

Course

According to Mark Williams, the mindfulness technique has three main learning paths, which are meditation groups, books (which usually accompanies CD with practices) and courses.

Course fees usually range from R $ 300 to R $ 1,000.

Among the options, there are face-to-face or online courses, which teach the techniques of guided practices and their applications in everyday life. In general, the courses last 8 weeks.

The contents may vary according to the institution, but generally the topics covered are related to yoga, well-being, emotional intelligence, neuroscience, among other areas of self-knowledge.


The practice of mindfulness provides several benefits related to self-knowledge, productivity, focus, emotional intelligence and even reduced anxiety and stress.

Are you already a practitioner of the technique? Share your experience with us in the comments!

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