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Mindfulness - where to begin

Mindfulness - where to begin

  • Close your eyes & notice the movement of breath through your body... in and out. 
  • Mind will start wandering uncontrollably to memories, planning for something, things we wished we had done, judging ourself for having wandered, distracted to the incomplete to-do list.
  • Practice mindfulness - notice & accept that your mind wandered. This is the best practice to develop the skill of mindfulness & applying it to everyday events.

Psychology & Philosophy of Mindfulness

Psychology & Philosophy of Mindfulness

In psychology, mindfulness has 2 components -

  1. Attention - moment to moment experience. Paying attention to the thoughts, feelings, sensations in the present moment.
  2. Attitude - Paying attention to these with an open attitude... with elements of curiosity, acceptance without judgment (good or bad)

It has a long history in Buddhist philosophy and is a part of larger set of practices to reduce suffering and increase enduring happiness. Mindfulness meditation is used to cultivate the state of mindfulness. It does to our mind what exercising does to our body - makes it stronger & more flexible.

Mindfulness - the power to choose

Mindfulness - the power to choose

Our experience of life is influenced by the events that happen, but more so by how we respond to them.

We have the power to choose or at least practice getting better at choosing our response to what happens in life. Mindfulness helps us do this effectively.

Our attitude cannot erase physical pain or the need for may be medical assistance, but it can help make the experience better, or at least stop it from feeling worse -

  1. Realize you have the power to choose.
  2. Stop the kind of respsonses you actually want to have - feeling annoyed, angry, 'why me'.

How to use mindfulness for physical pain

How to use mindfulness for physical pain

  • Technique - Attend to & accept any sensation you experience of physical pain without making any judgment of "goodness" or "badness" of that sensation. You can ask yourself - "I am feeling pain right now but can I be Ok with this feeling?"
  • A Yale study showed mindfully accepting pain can -
  1. decrease pain intensity ratings (about 27%).
  2. Mindful reaction decreases response in brain's pain matrix (brain's regions involved in experiencing pain). It decreases neural response to pain about 40% - 68%.

A little bit of mindfulness at the right time can go a long way. Practice makes it even more effective.

How meditation improves overall wellbeing

How meditation improves overall wellbeing

More than 100 psychological studies support the fact that mindfulness meditation improves increased overall wellbeing including

Psychological functions -

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive function
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Problem eating

Biological functions -

  • Blood pressure
  • Pain
  • Stress markers
  • Cellular health

The science of meditation

The science of meditation

Experience based neuroplasticity - brain continuously makes or strengthens some connections & breaks or weakens other. 

Meditation can significantly alter our experiences of stress & change our brain

  • Function - In a Yale study, fMRI showed the amygdala (part of brain involved in the experience of negative emotions) was less active during stress in people who meditated.
  • Structure - A Harvard study showed it also increased density of the amygdala. (Chronic stress can cause the hyperactive amygdala to become bigger in size).

- Victor Frankl

"The last of human freedoms -

to choose one's attitude

in any given set of circumstances."


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