With the rise of app-based wellness subscriptions, mindfulness may well be in its heyday. But you don’t need any technology or money to apply its ideas to daily life. In short, mindfulness is the idea that we can gain awareness of our thought patterns and change them for the better.
People all over the world are using mindfulness meditation to think more clearly and reduce stress. There’s never been a better time to join them.
Switch Off Autopilot!
Ever notice that time as a child seemed to pass more slowly? The days, months, and years all seemed to drag on forever. As adults, they go by in the blink of an eye. It might be because your brain is on autopilot.
When we’re kids, most (if not all) of our experiences feel completely new. This novelty is so striking to the brain that it diligently files the memories away for later access.
In adulthood, we settle into a routine and have much less novelty in our lives. Since your brain has no reason to save the memories of an average Tuesday, time seems to fly by in retrospect.
Can we reset our brains to stop life from passing by so quickly?
Maybe in part. One way of using mindfulness is by growing the skill of present moment awareness. By getting ourselves off ‘autopilot,’ the brain is free to see every day as new and exciting, and file it away just like when we were kids.
Researchers Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert even found that we’re at our happiest when our minds aren't wandering. 1 Practice turning off the autopilot—it might make your day more memorable.
Bonus Fact: Turning Grey
A team at Harvard Medical School found that mindfulness-based stress reduction actually changes the structure of the brain.2 People who took part in an 8-week mindfulness program had more grey matter as seen on an MRI. Grey matter makes up brain structures that process information. The a Affected parts of the brain are involved with learning and memory, emotion regulation, and other systems. This is great news for proponents of mindfulness. It supports what they already knew—that mindfulness has a real benefit for mental functioning.
Mindful Meditator vs. Rational Realist
Some people get a better mood boost from mindfulness meditation.3 A variant in the OXTR gene is associated with greater mood improvement after a guided session. Could you have this bonus boost in store? Are you one of them? Regardless of your genotype, meditation can be great for stress reduction, mood, and restful sleep. Get your result and learn more about the history and potential benefits of mindfulness.
 Killingsworth, M., & Gilbert, D. (2010). A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind. Science, 330(6006), 932-932. doi: 10.1126/science.1192439
 Hölzel, B., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 191(1), 36-43. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.08.006
 Isgett, S. F., Algoe, S. B., Boulton, A. J., Way, B. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2016). Common variant in OXTR predicts growth in positive emotions from loving-kindness training. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 73, 244–251. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.08.010