“Research shows we can actually train our attention and our meta-awareness, and that this is a learnable skill,” says Richard Davidson, PhD, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds.
2. Improve self-esteem and self-awareness
Mindfulness meditation encourages you to slow down, allows for deeper self-reflection, and can help you discover positive attributes about yourself.
“Mindfulness helps increase self-awareness by increasing the ability to examine one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment, which ends up improving self-esteem,” says Brian Wind, PhD, Chief Clinical Officer at JourneyPure.
According to researchers at Stanford University, mindfulness meditation can especially help those with social anxiety. In a 2009 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 14 participants with social anxiety disorder participated in two months of meditation training and reported decreased anxiety and improved self-esteem after completing the program.
3. Reduce stress
Mindfulness meditation can also lower the levels of cortisol — the stress hormone —which helps you feel more relaxed.
In a 2013 review, researchers analyzed more than 200 studies of mindfulness meditation among healthy people and found meditation to be an effective way to reduce stress. Repeating a mantra — such as a word or phrase — during meditation can also have a calming effect, and by concentrating on your mantra, you’re able to shift your focus away from distracting thoughts.