What is mindfulness and meditation?

Mindfulness is a term that is becoming increasingly common when people talk about stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health topics. It refers to a state of mind where we pay close attention to the present moment – to the external environment around you, your internal thoughts and feelings, and your physical sensations. It is about being present in the moment, noticing - but not judging or trying to alter - how you feel.

By being aware in the moment, mindfulness seeks to help us better understand ourselves, and enjoy the world around us. With many of us living busy lives it can be easy to forget to stop and take stock of our true feelings. Mindfulness can be used to help us identify issues, without judgement, that might otherwise go unnoticed, for example stress.

Meditation can mean different things to different people, in this context it is when we practise sitting quietly, focusing our thoughts, sensations and feelings. Meditation is essentially a mindfulness exercise that can be performed to promote self-awareness, relaxation, and happiness. For some people it is a spiritual exercise, however, it can also just be a way of finding time to think about ourselves.

The evidence behind mindfulness

There have been many studies into the effectiveness of mindfulness. The American Psychological Association has a very thorough guide to the evidence behind mindfulness, but some of the key areas that it has been shown to help with include:

  • A reduced focus on the negative aspects of life
  • Stress reduction
  • Focus
  • Reduced emotional reactivity
  • Cognitive flexibility, or the ability to think flexibly
  • Relationship satisfaction

 Practice meditations

If you have read our introduction to mindfulness and meditation and would to try some meditation then we have some dermatology practice meditations that you can try. If you would like to explore this further, there are a wide selection of smart phone applications and websites dedicated to mindfulness.

  • Guided 4-minute mindful meditation for dermatology
  • Guided mindful meditation for itch
  • Guided mindful meditation for psoriasis
  • Guided mindful meditation for hidradenitis suppurativa
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