Mindfulness is Your Weapon Against Stress
Mindfulness has reached its tipping point. Once a mysterious, fringe practice, it simply means becoming more attuned to the present moment, often through meditation. Top achievers — from financier Ray Dalio to media magnate Arianna Huffington — have raved about its benefits. Athletes having been mindfulness based practices for years to optimize performance.
It’s easy to see why. A team of researchers from Harvard recently found that consistent meditation can actually decrease the size of the amygdalae, the area of the brain that processes emotional responses. The amygdalae is where our fight or flight response is triggered; when the amygdalae are activated, your heart beats fasts, your hands shake or your cheeks go red.) As a result, those who meditated were less prone to stress. Better still, meditation can increase the size of the hippocampus, thereby growing our capacity to make rational decisions.
While some may use other unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress, mindfulness and meditation offer a better option. They alter the way our brains process stress, and make us better at managing the pressure points of our lives and allowing us to feel less stressed overall.
Meditation can do a lot more, too. Research has found that it can significantly increase empathy, improve how the immune system functions and boost cardiovascular health.
The next time that you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, try taking just a few minutes to try breathing in for four counts, holding for four counts, exhaling for four counts, and holding out for four counts in a technique called “boxed breathing.” This is one of the fastest ways to decrease the stress response in the body in order to quickly bring you back to a place of presence and peace.
Catie Fenn is an ex-lawyer turned life coach, spiritual teacher, and empowerment speaker. She leads transformational retreats in Costa Rica, Tulum, and Muskoka designed to take individuals on a deep journey to transform their lives from the inside out, as well as the Circle, a women’s gathering to help women connect with their inner wisdom and power.
@catiefenn – Catie Fenn IG