By Keith Fiveson
Is it possible to stop, or even reverse, the aging process? Research and science tell us yes, this is possible. Mindfulness and compassion may be the pathway to a longer, happier life. What is mindfulness? It’s the simple act of noting our breath and being aware of thoughts and feelings.
Science has backed this up over the past decade. For example, science has examined mindfulness as an effective strategy for preventing and managing Alzheimer’s disease, stress, and anxiety, regulating heart rate, and helping connect us with a higher sense of purpose. Science shows that it works and that it helps people live longer.
So, why aren’t more people practicing it, and how does it work? Mindfulness is a psychological process that affects the content and function of our minds. It is an ongoing awareness of our thoughts, bodies, and emotions that helps us to disrupt stressful patterns.
Mindfulness directly affects our nervous systems and how we get triggered. Science shows us that it also impacts our aging and our abilities to handle and manage stress on a cellular level. And while stress is essential for survival, we can get even more stressed if we have the wrong perceptions, which can cause us to live shorter lives.
At a conference about how to live longer, H.H. the Dalai Lama said that emotions are good if they are based on reason and analysis. So, for example, if emotions drive meaningful behaviors, they are helpful.
But feelings based on false projections or fear-based beliefs make people less healthy and act out on behaviors that are not helpful (over-eating, drinking, drugging, and destructive self-beliefs). In addition, people that have fear-based beliefs die earlier than people who don’t have those types of thoughts often.
In researching the brain, Britta Hölzel, Ph.D., revealed that people who practiced mindful meditation for as little as 30 minutes per day had better focus and attention than those who didn’t (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/). No drugs are needed. You can practice this wherever you are.
J. David Creswell, Ph.D., and his colleagues discovered that people who practiced mindfulness had less mind-wandering during a task. Mindfulness helps individuals avoid accidents, reduce mistakes and increase overall engagement with friends, family, customers, or clients. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6613793/).
There is also a lot of research showing that mindfulness can improve our brain function memory and reduce Alzheimer’s. Because cognitive decline worries many of us, mindfulness is essential as we age.
If you are experiencing stress, anxiety, burnout, or other mental challenges, please look for assistance. There are specific resources and mindfulness techniques that can help you notice what’s happening right now, reframing and detaching, so you can reduce the “mental chatter” and the negative thinking and get help. Please look here: https://workmindfulness.com/resources/
About the Author: Keith W Fiveson is a Mindfulness-based coach, counselor, and consultant, who works with individuals and organizations to improve resilience and performance. He lives in Port Washington.