Ever been in a state of being “mindless”? It’s when one is too preoccupied to give full attention to the present moment. People who experience this condition lose touch with themselves and others. Perhaps, the thought of completing a daunting task by noon or waking up to a horrible boss can leave the mind drifting in a state of anxiety, while the body works robotically.
Unfortunately, most people are like this every day. Their minds are a jumble of thoughts that range from the mundane to the existential. However, without proper care, this unconscious act can negatively impact one’s quality of life. This is especially true when it comes to managing emotions and relationships. Hence, there’s a need for mindfulness meditation.
This practice helps people focus on what’s happening at the moment. It’s also a powerful way to overcome stress, reduce negative emotions, and improve overall wellbeing. This guide discusses how to get started in with this practice.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
The term meditation itself refers to “mental training or control”. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. When combined, mindful meditation is the act of training or controlling the mind to reach a mental state of self-awareness.
Anyone can attain this state through meditative techniques that focus on the mind as a mental construct. As such individuals become more aware of their inner mental and physical experiences, and they’re able to observe without reacting. They view such stimuli as neither good nor bad. Thus, they can be more in control of their thoughts and emotions.
Studies have proven regular mindful meditative sessions boost one’s emotional intelligence, focus, and motivation.
Types of Mindfulness-Based Interventions
The practice of mindfulness isn’t new. In fact, it has been used as a therapeutic tool since ancient Buddhist teachings. It’s been adapted for the Western world as a popular type of stress management and emotional healing over time. The methods range from guided imagery to mindful walking. That stated, here are two types of mindfulness-based interventions.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR was originally developed in the 1970s for individuals struggling with depression and anxiety. It involves guided meditative sessions with a certified instructor. Participants undergo experiential therapy while incorporating dietary and lifestyle changes. The goal is to induce a state of well-being and awareness through meditation.
The program features exercises, meditations, yoga, music therapy, and self-care practices, among others. Since its inception, the technique has evolved to accommodate patients with other disorders. For example, individuals with an eating disorder can now use MBSR as a complementary treatment.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
MBCT is designed to teach individuals coping skills to deal with the triggers and symptoms of anxiety and depression. It combines cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction. Participants are taught to become more aware of their emotional experiences and alter their internal and external responses. The goal is to prevent and manage depression relapse.
How Mindfulness Meditation Affects One’s Wellbeing
Daily mindful meditation has a positive impact on one’s psychological wellbeing. Here are just some of its proven benefits.
In a study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, researchers found a direct link between mindfulness and stress. According to the study, mindfulness helps individuals manage the physical and mental symptoms of stress. A 10-minute session of MBSR a day reduces cortisol levels by up to 20%.
A decrease in stress helps improve one’s physical and mental health. This is significant, as chronic stress and anxiety increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and depression.
The body has an in-built defence system to fight disease-causing organisms. However, when the immune system is impaired from stress or other life-altering experiences, it becomes susceptible to attacks. This condition may result in serious health complications. It also affects the body’s healing process.
Mindfulness meditation helps boost the immune system by changing the way the body reacts to emotional stress. It allows the body to relax and focus on fighting off foreign bodies. As a result, the likelihood of succumbing to illnesses and diseases is reduced.
Reduce Heart Rate
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart diseases. Mindfulness meditation can alleviate this condition by lowering heart rate, which is an improvement indicator for people with hypertension. The practice promotes the regulation of the autonomic nervous system, which helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure, among others. Therefore, there’s less risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Getting adequate sleep is essential for good health. Unfortunately, stress and anxiety can disrupt one’s sleeping pattern. They can interfere with the process of getting adequate REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM sleep. Mindfulness meditation can promote sleep quality by alleviating associated disorders.
Increased Creativity and Innovation
The brain controls everything in the body. Therefore, when the mind is relaxed and focused, creative solutions can easily emerge. Mindfulness meditation facilitates better cognitive functioning. Since it reduces anxiety, a practitioner is less likely to overthink, become stagnant, or feel stuck. The individual’s mind becomes more flexible and open to innovative ideas and creative solutions.
Daily Mindfulness Meditation Tips
Mindfulness meditation requires daily practise to be effective. To make it a daily practice, consider these tips:
Choose the Right Meditation Setting
This should be a place that promotes relaxation and ideation. It can be anywhere quiet and peaceful, such as the bedroom.
Become Comfortable in that Space
Put the clutter away and assume a sitting position (either on a mat, bed or a chair). Keep a straight (but not stiff) body posture.
Set a timer
Set a meditation timer to maintain focus and measure progress.
Observe Breathing Patterns and Thoughts
Mindfulness experts recommend focusing on one’s breath in and out. This ensures that the practitioner is paying attention and not straying from the current activity. If thoughts come in, observe and accept them without judgement. Avoid ruminating or overthinking. Once the timer’s up, take a few deep breaths.
Mindfulness meditation is a simple technique with enormous benefits. Its practice helps anyone experience a heightened sense of awareness. It also increases positivity, and compassion, while reducing stress and anxiety. Mindfulness is a powerful tool to fight the challenges of today’s world. Hence, make time for daily practice for improved health and wellness.