Mindfulness meditation is a topic we’re hearing more about as its benefits extend to almost anyone, ranging from war veterans suffering from PTSD to future MBA candidates striving to become better leaders. This is a fascinating area of self-improvement that’s been on the rise, largely because it is somewhat enigmatic (and also effective). How can the practice of being mindful help so many diverse individuals and how is it that it feels at once ancient and trendy? While the practice of meditation stems from ancient roots in the Buddhist tradition, it has numerous benefits in anxiety therapy for anyone looking to quell the constant ringing of mental chatter.

Because meditative practice promotes a sense of well-being, it’s being integrated into therapy as a way to work through mental distress. It serves as a technique to promote awareness of the changing tides of our emotions and thoughts while monitoring them to help us understand not only what’s happening around us, but also within us.

We all stress, we all struggle and yet we all have the tendency to wish away our pain. The tenets of mindful meditation, however, rest on the premise that to alleviate suffering, we must go deeply into the present moment with acceptance of what is and not jump to change it. This very concept runs counter to our culture’s pathological belief that we are never enough and must change that which is lacking. In fact, it defies our Westernized instinct to strive for more.

Mindfulness meditation can offer a qualitatively different experience than that provided by our typical reaction to challenges. During the therapeutic process, mindful meditation allows an individual to endure uncomfortable emotions and let them pass without trying to wish them away-a move often met with a resistant backlash. When we meditate and begin to calm our minds, in spite of how challenging it may be at first, we can feel our systems and mind begin to shift out of overdrive and enter into a more sustainable state. Apart from the gratifying feeling of calm that emerges, when we meditate, we activate areas of the brain that promote memory, learning and emotional regulation.

Meditative practice disentangles us from the flood of our emotion, and instead brings forth clarity, focus and productivity. With this acute awareness, we are better equipped to react to everyday situations and instead of giving a knee-jerk reaction, step outside of ourselves and observe the moment with a sense of compassion.