What Mindfulness Meditation Can (and Can’t) Do For You

What Mindfulness Meditation Can (and Can’t) Do For You

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness Meditation is a practice designed to cultivate mindfulness. In the practice, you set aside time to purposefully focus yourself on the present moment, with awareness, and without judgment. It is a called a practice, because, ideally, one engages in it on a regular and recurrent basis. Additionally, it’s not something that you will be great at or even completely understand the first few times you do it. But with practice it will begin to click.

In fact, the practice of cultivating mindfulness can be helpful for a variety of mental and physical conditions. Many studies have demonstrated that the practice of mindfulness can actually change our brains and our emotional reactions to different experiences, particularly difficult emotions. We also become better at regulating our emotions. One key thing to consider is that while mindfulness won’t get rid of our problems, it allows us to react differently to them. Mindfulness allows us to step out of our tendency to be on auto-pilot and make more conscious decisions about how we want to respond. We are able to see our thoughts as thoughts and not become stuck on them. Additionally, mindfulness has been shown to improve our ability to focus and to relax. A regular mindfulness practice has even been shown to strengthen the immune system.

Sounds great. What can’t it do?

Mindfulness isn’t a cure-all. It’s important to keep in mind that it won’t stop you from experiencing emotions (and that’s OK) and is more about learning to tolerate and respond thoughtfully to emotions as they come up.  Mindfulness will help you notice, acknowledge, label the emotions, and help you to see that you can co-exist with them. It can help you to become aware of your ability to view emotions as waves which come and go. But it won’t stop them from arising in the first place.

Sometimes individuals struggling with more severe mental health problems find that “sitting with” their intense emotions for long periods of time can actually amplify, rather than diminish, the intensity of those feelings. If you are unsure of whether mindfulness meditation is right for you, consult with a doctor or mental health professional. There are other ways, though, to relax or connect with the present moment. Activities like taking a walk, listening to music, or reading can also help you to change your perspective and create some distance from your thoughts.

Pacifica is designed to help you better understand your emotions and experiences through a wide range of tools, only one of which is mindfulness. After you rate your mood, the app will suggest activities to help, based on your current mood and identified goals. These activities include everything from completing a thought record or goal setting to getting exercise or saving an uplifting quote or photo to your hope board. Using the app’s Guided Paths can be particularly helpful for exploring all the options available. We realize that everyone is unique and have tried to put together a range of tools to help people find what works for them.