The Benefits of Practising Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a remarkable tool that will allow you to understand, tolerate, and deal with your emotions in healthy ways. It helps to alter your habitual responses by pausing and choosing how you act. Here are 5 reasons why you should try mindfulness practice:

    1. Mindfulness improves mental focus and concentration. Our minds are consistently all over the place and burdened with lots of information. This can often affect our concentration and productivity, which may consequently limit performance in tasks. Previous research has revealed that mindfulness meditation, such as pace-breathing exercises, offers a great way to become more present at the moment. Indeed, a recent study published by Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience reported that there is a strong link between breathing patterns and the brains ‘focus’ network. At a physiological level, breathing rhythms affect the level of circulating noradrenaline, a naturally occurring chemical which is involved in regulating attention and focus.
    2. Mindfulness can help battle stress. Humans have a habit of overthinking, stressing out, and obsessing, which can have a negative influence on the way we feel. Practising mindfulness offers you the space to think differently about the stress and become more aware of your thoughts. Not only this, but it provides you with the opportunity to identify the root cause of your stress and identify ways to overcome this.
    3. Improves sleep quality. Given that mindfulness meditation provides useful stress relief, it is not surprising that it can also alleviate insomnia and improve the overall quality of life. A recent study published in JAMA internal medicine, involving 49 individuals with insomnia, found that mindfulness meditation over a 6-week period significantly improved their insomnia, fatigue, and depression. The ability for mindfulness practice to remediate sleep issues consequently improves the quality of life long-term.
    4. Practising mindfulness improves mental health. In the last decade, psychotherapists have turned to mindfulness meditation as an important component in the treatment of numerous mental health problems, including depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Indeed, a recent large-scale systematic review of mindfulness-based interventions in healthcare, revealed that practising mindfulness significantly improved mental and physical symptoms of numerous conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, depression, anxiety disorders in both adults and children.
    5. Improves overall physical health. Not only does mindfulness improve mental health, but experts have also suggested that practising mindfulness can also improve physical health in a number of ways. Recent evidence has revealed that mindfulness can help treat heart disease, low blood pressure, and also alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. Importantly, mindfulness meditation has been found to relieve chronic pain symptoms. Mindfulness meditation can be used to manage pain, which allows you to become aware and also acknowledge the sensations of pain. At any point, you can shift your attention to more pleasant sensations in your body or your surroundings.

Ways to practice mindfulness

By focusing on the present and allowing yourself to be grounded in what’s going on around you, mindfulness practice creates a harmony between the physical brain and consciousness. Here are 6 ways of practising mindfulness:

1. Mindful breathing

Breathing is an important technique which forms the foundation of mindfulness practice. Enhancing your awareness of this innate life-giving force can improve your life through a variety of ways, particularly by bringing your focus back to the present moment. This focus helps to deepen each breath, which therefore engages the relaxation response and reduces the production of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is widely recognised as a ‘stress hormone’, therefore by reducing it, this consequently helps to attenuate your experience of stress. Not only this, but mindful breathing helps to control neurotransmitters in the brain, which initiates the growth of neural connections, resulting in a steadier state of mind.

2. Practising yoga

Modern yoga is a physical activity which involves practising a large array of postures called asanas, connected by flowing sequences called vinyasas. A relatively recent form of yoga, Mindful Yoga, applies traditional Buddhist mindfulness teachings to the practice of yoga, as a way to cultivate greater awareness, consciousness, and remarkably improved quality of life. Mindful yoga is often accompanied by breathing exercises, which further help to achieve focus and control in the present moment.

3. Mindful listening

Listening is a socio-cognitive activity which is affected by our experience as well as our future expectations. Naturally, we have a tendency to listen more closely to information which is deemed ‘important’ and filter out irrelevant information. As a result, mindful listening allows you to be present and aware of the environment around you. Listening to colleagues, responding with questions and attempting to view situations from different perspectives, will consequently make you more mindful.

4. Mindful eating

According to The Centre for Mindful Eating, “Eating mindfully allows yourself to become aware of the nurturing opportunities that are available through selection and preparation of food, by respecting your own inner wisdom”. In simpler terms, mindful eating involves using all of your senses to choose to eat food that is both satisfying and nourishing to your body and acknowledging these responses without judgement. As a result, you will become increasingly aware of the physical hunger and satiety cues that guide your decisions to begin and end eating. 

5. Mindful walking 

Whether you’re moving between floors of a building, on a city street, or walking from one lecture to another, mindful walking is an opportunity to guide yourself out of the distracted autopilot mode. Walking meditation can be a formal practice, or it can be an informal act, for instance whenever you need to travel from point A to B. This technique allows you to completely immerse yourself in the surroundings, providing you with an opportunity to acknowledge aspects of the environment that you would normally miss. 

6. Start your morning with the right mindset

First, when you wake up, take a few deep breaths before getting out of your bed. This will give your brain an oxygen boost, which will help to get you out of bed and start afresh. Refrain from grabbing your phone immediately, and instead take a few minutes to visualize the day ahead. Rather than thinking about what happened the day before, focus your attention on what you want to achieve throughout the day, making sure you plan breaks to ensure you retain focus. You could even incorporate CBD-based products into your morning routine, whether this is CBD capsules or even CBD-infused coffee to provide you with an instant caffeine-kick! By repeating this morning routine daily, you set yourself up for a positive mindfulness experience throughout the day.

Reason to use CBD for mindfulness

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring, non-psychoactive compound extracted from the cannabis-based hemp plant. In recent years, there has been a surge in interest in CBD products, thanks to its diverse and effective therapeutic and medicinal applications. Indeed, a recent large-scale nationwide CBD survey reported that a remarkable 7.8 million UK adults (approximately 15% of the UK population) have bought CBD products in the past year alone. With this in mind, more practitioners of meditation and yoga have found that the calming and anti-anxiety effects CBD offers are beneficial for cultivating mindfulness. 

According to S.N Goenka, a renowned Indian Vipassana meditation teacher, there are two primary obstacles to successful mindfulness meditation. The first is an inability to retain full focus, and the second is worry or doubt. These issues can be easily circumnavigated with CBD.  Indeed, a recent study demonstrated that low doses of CBD resulted in increased alertness and focus. Not only does CBD increase alertness, but it also prevents hyperactivity in the brain. Given that CBD is capable of controlling the stream of intrusive thoughts that goes through our mind, it is not surprising that CBD can also help to reduce the occurrence of worry and doubt – providing important anxiolytic effects. Whilst CBD benefits provide you with greater control of your thoughts and worries, it is important to note that CBD is not a magical mindfulness supplement and therefore will not ‘cure’ pre-existing conditions. 

Another key obstacle to mindfulness practice is pain. Individuals who perform yoga as part of their mindful practice, often report leg cramps, joint pain and sore muscles – which can act as a deterrent to further practice. CBD-infused topical muscle creams provide an effective treatment for pain management following yoga practice, acting somewhat similarly to a painkiller.

What are the types of products infused with CBD available on the market?

CBD-infused products market ranges from oils to different types of CBD cream, vape juices and edibles. The most popular and versatile products that contain CBD include oils that are designed for sublingual use. The reason for their popularity is the fact that they have a very short activation time. Capsules, on the other hand, have a shorter onset time because they need to be digested first. However, due to the slow activation and the digestion process, they also stay activated in one’s body for a more prolonged period of time. Same goes for any edibles such as CBD gummies or CBD chocolates. The choice of a type of product depends entirely on your personal preferences, so do your research and choose for yourself what option to opt for.

CBD and its side effects

Like any substance, cannabidiol has side effects. The most common is dry mouth, which is due to the CBD inhibiting endocannabinoid receptors in the salivary glands, which therefore attenuates gland secretion. Other reported side effects include: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tremors

However, it must be noted that these side effects are relatively rare. No evidence has suggested that CBD affects heart rate, blood pressure or body temperature, making it even more favourable to scientific researchers and health professionals. 

So far there has been little conclusive data on CBD and pregnancy. Given that CBD readily crosses the placenta and comes into contact with the fetus, many scientists have recommended that pregnant women should not take CBD. Until scientists better understand how CBD affects the growing baby, experts have suggested that it’s best to be cautious and avoid CBD during pregnancy.

Key takeaways on CBD and mindfulness

Mindfulness is the state of awareness when the body, its senses and the mind are working in harmony with one another in order to feel present in the moment. Many techniques such as breathing exercises, mindful walking and yoga provide a great way to practice mindfulness. Sizeable evidence has also revealed that CBD combined with mindfulness practice provides a greater awareness during and after practice – producing long-lasting positive effects on mental state. This is because CBD can help to achieve a more relaxed condition and a clear mind, which consequently helps to relieve anxiety, depression, stress and many other conditions. With this in mind, why not try CBD for mindfulness, and experience these effects for yourself.

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    I’M KAREN NIGHTINGALE!

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