Mindfulness Research: The Benefits of Being Present

Mindfulness increases positive emotions

In their 2003 article “The Benefits of Being Present: Mindfulness and Its Role in Psychological Well-Being,” Brown and Ryan carefully elucidate the exact correlation between increased experiences of positive emotions and increased mindfulness-based practices. They posit that increased self-awareness is one defined and a tangible byproduct of being more present, and that fluctuating moods and the tumult that may occur on a day-to-day basis has been proven to decline with mindfulness meditation practice, leading to a more balanced emotional state, and ultimately, a happier life. They note that while everyone has the ability and capacity to participate in these practices and change their lives in these ways, the defining factors are willingness and varied ‘dullness’ or ‘sharpness’ of mind.

Mindfulness gives clarity and vividness of experience

They explain that the ability to achieve an increased experience of positivity does not lie in participating in mindfulness practices alone, but also on a general level, being open to and interested in new experiences. In other words, the practices alone are not enough to change your life, you must be interested in doing so for yourself, and to be open to whatever may come. However, it is proven that in doing so, you will afford yourself the addition of ‘clarity and vividness of experience’. Using the MAAS (Mindful Attention Awareness Scale) they were able to examine explicitly the ability to be in the present moment of the 1,253 individuals they studied, as it varied from instance to instance, based on a particular participant’s perceived level of awareness using the scale. Brown and Warren were able to effectively prove that increasing your ability to be present can reduce your experience of stress, regulate your emotions, and foster a general sense of well-being. This study is important, because, in prior research, there was no way to effectively ‘measure’ mindfulness. This research is of particular note because they were also able to prove that mindfulness is effective in creating a decline in mood disturbance and stress for breast and prostate cancer patients, regardless of changes in physical symptoms.

Also, read how mindfulness affects the brain and immune system.

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Latest update: June 26, 2017
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