In the last post I explained that mindfulness is often credited for a suspiciously long list of benefits, from better sleep to better marriages. But it’s hard to see quite how sitting on the floor does all that, if indeed it does.

Once you’ve established a regular mindfulness practice, you notice all sorts of happy side effects. I could list dozens in my life. They vary from person to person, but many can be reduced to three major, primary benefits that are probably universal among mindfulness practitioners.

I’ll explain what they are, and how they could possibly result from sitting on a cushion, noticing your breathing.  Read more

guy on bench

When I first meditated, sometime in 2000, I was self-conscious enough about my weird new hobby that I did it in a locked bathroom.

Today, mindfulness has gained pop culture acceptance, and has become the subject of serious scientific interest. My fellow “nerds of the mind” and I have become the cool kids, and we don’t have to be self-conscious any more.

Even most non-practitioners seem to believe that mindfulness can somehow calm our nerves and clear our heads, and that it’s probably an all-around good thing.

Beyond that though, it’s not clear how it’s so helpful. How, exactly, does watching your breathing, or tuning into the ambient sounds of neighborhood birds, produce the drastic improvements to everyday life that mindfulness nerds like me are always talking about?  Read more