Numerous methods of therapy and spiritual practice discuss mindfulness. Dispositional mindfulness (also recognized as trait mindfulness) is a category of consciousness that has lately, been given more serious research attention.

It is defined as a keen awareness and attention to our thoughts and feelings in the present moment, and the research focused on mindfulness has found that the capability to participate in this keen practice has many physical, psychological, and cognitive benefits.

Mindfulness meditation is unlike anything else. It has taken the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and paired it with the western world as a method of preparation and guidance. People who mindfully meditate encourage others to develop a “sitting practice,” in which they set aside time to meditate.

In the West, meditation is seen as a means to an end. It is believed that when meditating, you will be serene, have lower blood pressure, healthier relationships, and lower levels of stress. Though most of these facts are accurate, the mindfulness piece of this practice was not designed as a means to an end — it was intended to be a way of sensible living.

Hear me out: mindfulness meditation and the wide variety of guidance programs and opportunities are each respected exercises. However, the initial purpose of mindfulness and the science now surrounding dispositional mindfulness may be at the very root of how we maintain hope, perseverance, and mental health.

The following are examples of the research outcomes from almost 100 studies using dispositional mindfulness:

  • Lower levels of apparent stress
  • Less avoidance of coping strategies
  • Less depressive symptoms
  • Better perseverance
  • Lower levels of anxiety
  • Greater sense of hope
  • Reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Better-quality adaptive coping strategies
  • Lower rumination
  • Less catastrophizing about pain
  • Less sense of neuroticism
  • Better executive function
  • Decreased impulsivity
  • Amplified emotional stability

This is a remarkable list.  The intervention we are talking about comes from within.  It is a non-judging consciousness of our own opinions and actions. The non-judgment is a crucial facet of this practice. Cultivating a witness, a self that interprets our own experience with a benevolent prospective, has significance and influence.

Because of this, we are hopeful and conscious of our thoughts, gaining exceptional value in simply noticing them. This shaky space between awareness and reaction becomes clearer to us, once we are comfortable enough to assess the gap. Dispositional mindfulness is an invitation to widen that gap simply by noticing it exists. As we step back from our moment-to-moment experience we are cultivating our mindfulness, which then opens the way to responsiveness and the possibility and potential to shift our perceptions for the better.

As the American Poet Allen Ginsberg suggested, one way to enter this gap is to “notice what you notice.” The practice is simple enough. As you review your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in an instant, work to eliminate judgment. This break for thought is, in itself, the very dispositional mindfulness that research is saying has countless benefits. In essence, the practice is strengthened when we catch ourselves thinking.