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Good Mental Health Practices - What is Mindfulness Practice?

Mindfulness is a practice that anyone can quickly learn and immediately use to benefit one's mental, physical, and emotional health. If you have thought about doing meditation or starting a mindfulness training program but were not sure what it meant then this article will be great at explaining the basics of mindfulness before starting practice.
What is Mindfulness? In the West, the field of psychology has developed a therapeutic practice starting in the 1970s called mindfulness. It has roots in the Buddhist meditation practice of awareness. Traditionally, in Theravada Buddhism, people could be taught two forms of meditation which reflect the modern practice of mindfulness.
The first is a calming of the mind practice which usually involves watching one's breath go in and out. Are you breathing through your nose or your mouth? Through your right nostril, your left nostril, or both? Deep breaths or shallow breaths? This form of meditation helps settle the mind and bring the person back into the present moment without too many stressful, random thoughts and movement. This form of meditation is mainly to bring a serene peace to the mind and being aware of one's thoughts and body.
The second is a form of meditation is called insight or vipassana meditation. Insight meditation involves actively watching one's self including one's thoughts and body sensations without judging or evaluating them as good or bad. And by doing so, one begins to unravel the root causes of these phenomenons.
In today's mindfulness practice in Western psychology, these elements are preserved in being aware in the present moment and having a non-judgmental attitude towards whatever is happening. In essence, it is learning how to hold one's attention and concentration without judgment thereby being more aware of the present and being more open and accepting to whatever happens.
What the Benefits of Mindfulness Practice? Mindfulness therapies have shown great promise for a number of medical and psychological conditions. These include problems such as chronic pain, anxiety/depression, and stress. Cognitive therapy could be considered to embody many mindfulness principles in terms of being aware of one's thoughts. Essentially, mindfulness is a practice of changing one's negative mental habits so it can be useful for any variety of conditions such as drug abuse or severe depression.
Is Mindfulness a Form of Buddhism? Can Anyone Do It? Well, mindfulness as explained earlier is definitely within the Buddhist traditional practices. Many teachers such as Shunryu Suzuki and Thich Nhat Hanh have introduced Buddhist meditations to the West which directly helped inspire today's forms of mindfulness in psychology and therapy. However, one could arguably find different variants of mindfulness practice in all spiritual traditions. Because the actual practice itself is simply an open awareness to the present moment, there are no beliefs or dogmas that one needs first. Except perhaps an openness to experiment and willingness to believe it might be possible to bring dramatic changes through mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness is a mental practice that anyone can do and would help everyone. It does not have to be affiliated with any religion and can bring immediate positive results right now. However, it is often very helpful to first learn mindfulness with a teacher to make sure you are doing it correctly.

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