Most of the time, our thoughts are focused on the past and the future rather than on the present. And while technology may seem to make life easier, it also increases the demands on our time and attention. As a result, we are more stressed than ever before.
While there is no simple fix for stress, many adults find that meditation helps relieve the strain. In fact, 20 million Americans practice some form of meditation, and that number is rising.
Mindful awareness is one type of meditation that encourages us to pay attention to the present. Many people who practice mindfulness find that just stopping to connect with their inner lives and the current moment can bring a sense of peace, calm and renewed attention to their day.
You can practice mindful awareness through simple meditation. It requires no special gear, gym membership, clothing or gadgets – just you and a (mostly) quiet place. Here are some ways you can practice mindfulness:
It’s not just about producing a sense of calm — though that is an important element. Mindfulness can also promote better overall health by reducing stress, anxiety, depression and chronic physical pain. It also can improve attention, concentration, self-awareness and positive emotions. In addition, some studies suggest meditation can even help lower blood pressure and boost the immune system.
Even if you don’t consider yourself the meditating type, try it for a few minutes every day. You may be surprised at the positive effect it has on your sense of happiness and well-being. Some have reported that mindfulness has enhanced their lives in numerous ways, including improving sleep, relationships with partners and children, reactions to stressful situations and patience.
At UCLA, our Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) helps people increase their attention and focus on present experiences. MARC offers:
For more information about upcoming events as well as video and audio meditation downloads, please visit the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.