Embracing Meditation can be life-changing. We tend to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, and whilst we may not always be aware of it, our bodies and mind often find ways of dealing with that pressure, and it manifests itself into stress, anxiety, and exhaustion amongst others.
It's key to find ways that we can manage the troubles that on our way in a healthy, clean manner that allows us to breathe and focus more on the things we enjoy and embrace the beautiful things in life.
Mindfulness meditation is an incredibly effective way to do so, and thanks to Insider Magazine's articlefeaturing one of our known mental health expert, psychiatrist Dr. Phillip Romero, more people in the world know about it, but we want to delve even deeper and help get you started on your meditation journey.
What does Mindfulness really Mean?
Mindfulness is a term that's used often but it can be tricky to understand what it really means. Being mindful is effectively being truly present. It's about being connected to, and aware of, what's going on right now in our minds and our bodies.
Nowadays there are mindfulness based-treatment approaches for several mental health-related conditions, including depression and anxiety, amongst others. Mindfulness is very much about inner awareness and acceptance. We don't always want to think about our insecurities, our selfishness, our failures, or our fears.
Evidence shows that there are actual changes that occur in our brain in response to practicing mindfulness on a regular basis. An area in our brains called the amygdala is responsible for the 'fight-or-flight' response - our quick response to threats or anything intimidating in our environment. Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis have been shown to cause shrinkage in this area of the brain - the amygdala.
Evidence has also shown there are benefits to our bodies as well. Studies have shown that our immune response is boosted when we practice mindfulness regularly, supporting the system that helps us fight illness and infections.
The Principles of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we're doing, without being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what's going on around us.
Think of mindfulness as exploring our present.
Take a minute to stop everything you are doing and focus on your breath.
Mindfulness features three key aspects:
- Purpose: Intentionally and purposefully directing our attention rather than letting it wander.
- Presence:Be fully engaged with and attentive to our present moment. our past or future are simply what we acknowledge in our present.
- Acceptance: Open-minded toward whatever comes our way in the present moment. Thoughts and emotions are neither positive or negative; they are simply thoughts and emotions to be recognized.
Consider mindfulness as a state of 'being', rather than an activity. A new habit to embrace that embeds itself wonderfully into every aspect of your life.
Why Should you Practice Mindfulness?
As per Insider Magazine's article, Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation provides many benefits:
- Better concentration and effective regulation of emotions.
- Reduced anxiety and stress and aiding ability to handle difficult circumstances.
- Support quality of life, with lifelong conditions such as asthma and diabetes.
- Opens your mind and unlocks creativity that is sometimes hidden away.
Mindfulness can work in two very different ways, both in our personal and in our working lives. On a work basis, it can help in terms of developing concentration, focus, and if you do experience any stress or any burnout related to your job, it can reduce that. In terms of the culture, mindfulness can bring collaboration, creativity, and improved connections between people.
Practicing mindfulness involves learning a set of exercises that you aim to do on a regular basis. These exercises aim to learn to focus on being totally present.
A Mindful Lifestyle -- Let's get started
First, you don't need anything to start your mindfulness journey. You can practice anywhere - all you need is to dedicate some time and space in your day to form the habit.
It's hard to try and shut out the world, and as you practice paying attention to what's going on in your body and mind at that present moment, you'll often find it had to stop thoughts intruding. That's ok. It's expected.
A wandering mind is part of our nature. The moment when you recognize that your mind has wandered is the moment you can consciously bring it back to the present moment, and that's the beauty of practicing mindfulness; being aware of your present. Each time you practice returning to the present, the stronger your mindfulness will become. You can continue this practice in more practical efforts such as transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation.
What's the difference between Transcendental Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation?
Meditation and mindfulness practices are proven to improve us physically, psychologically, and spiritually. You may have heard of these two techniques, but let's explore the differences between them:
- Mindfulness Meditation is the art of keeping your mind on the present moment. Effective ways to remain present is to focus on your breathing, any sensations within your body or even sounds around you. Stay with them, and home in on them.
- Transcendental Meditation is the practice ofrepeating a mantra or word repeatedly in your mind. This allows an active thinking mind to settle and eventually enables our mind to fully transcend to its own unlimited source of pure 'being' - the field of consciousness.
Although different in practice, both Transcendental Meditation and Mindfulness carry the same benefits of enhancing your mental health, cognitive function, emotional regulation, and overall productivity. One of the many objectives of Meditation is to help us be calmer, less reactive, feel better and lead a more mindful lifestyle. Whatever your goal, there is no right or wrong way to practice meditation, just focus on what feels right for you.
So...is Meditation a Hobby?
Hobbies represent our passions and interests in life, why not embrace a new one that develops skills to enhance your focus, memory, and productivity.
There is no set ideal time to practice meditation nor is there an optimized technique; you can kickstart your day with an awakening meditation or round off your evening with a calming practice. Meditation and mindfulness are individual to us all and designed to be a seamless part of our lifestyle.
"Through meditation, the higher self is experienced."
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Here are a few simple steps to get started with your mindfulness meditation. Begin with 10 minutes daily perhaps and work up to 30-minute meditation.
- Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you. Try creating a unique wellness space at home.
- If you're just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
- Whether sitting in a chair or sitting cross-legged in a lotus posture, find a position that feels stable and comfortable, and that you can stay in for a while.
- Notice your breath.Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and out.
- Your mind will wander, that's to be expected. Notice the sensations of your breath and simply return your attention to your breath.
- Don't judge or worry over any wandering thoughts - Just take your time and bring yourself back to the present.
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