The term "mindfulness" has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years but what does it actually mean? And you may have heard of the term "mindfulness meditation" but aren't sure that it can help you. For some people, the term meditation tends to have a more Eastern medicine approach that can be hard for those accustomed to Western medicine to wrap their minds around. The term can be off-putting. I want to inform you about what mindfulness mediations is, who can practice mindfulness meditation, and some practical ways to include mindfulness meditation into your everyday life.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Meditation is a key form of practice in many world religions and cultures. Psychologists today have taken components of the Buddhist practice of insight meditation that focuses on our circumstances and embraces them with acceptance, patience, and compassion to create mindfulness meditation.
While it does have Eastern roots, mindfulness meditation is a Westernized, research-based, nonsectarian practice. So, if you aren't someone who typically embraces Eastern philosophy, rest assured mindfulness meditation has scientifically proven results and isn't tied to any specific religion or culture.
Meditation Science states:
"Mindfulness is non-judgmental, open-hearted, friendly, and inviting of whatever arises in awareness. It is cultivated by paying attention on purpose, deeply, and without judgment to whatever arises in the present moment... deliberately paying more careful moment-to-moment attention, individuals can live more fully and less on 'automatic pilot,' thus, being more present for their own lives."
Who Can Practice Mindfulness Meditation?
As you may perceive from the description, anyone wanting live more in the present and less on autopilot will benefit from mindfulness meditation. However, mindfulness meditation is often very helpful for people dealing with anxiety, stress, and depression. In a way, it can seem counterintuitive because mindfulness meditation doesn't seek to immediately change what we are struggling with.
As mentioned in the previous description, each thought is accepted and addressed with compassion. Often people can get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts and then feel even more guilty or frustrated with these thoughts. Mindfulness meditation focuses on each thought and allows it to pass by in its own time. For example, if someone is dealing with stress over a certain relationship, instead of avoiding thinking about that relationship, let the thought come, simple note the thought without judgment, and then let the thought go.
If this still isn't quite making sense, here is something practical you can try. Do you have any aches or pains in your body? Try focusing all your attention on that pain. Strangely enough, in a few minutes, you will probably find that pain subsiding. You've given your mind space for that experience and now you can move on.
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Want to try it yourself? Get into a quiet place. Begin focusing on your breath—deep inhales in, big exhales out. Try not to think about the past or the future but only the present moment.
VeryWell Mind States:
"Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, don't ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor. If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and simply return to your breathing."
Source: VeryWell Mind
When you feel done with your practice or your time is up, you can be finished. You can also incorporate mindfulness into daily activities like washing the dishes, driving, or any other task where you would generally zone out. Take those moments to focus on the present instead of thinking about what you are going to watch on TV later or your to-do list.
As you can see, anyone can practice mindfulness meditation and doing so can bring peace to your life. If you want to know more about mindfulness meditation and other anxiety-reducing techniques, contact me today.