What Is Mindful Meditation?
Ten million people in America practice mindful meditation. That’s quite a lot. Mindful meditation has become popular as more and more people enjoy living a better, less stressful, more productive life.
Why are these people turning to meditation to improve their daily lives? The easy answer is, meditation works. The more complex answer is that today, we are suffering from information overload and stress more than previous generations. Some meditators want to reduce stress and enjoy greater peace. Others seek more awareness to create a more purposeful life. Still, others want to gain greater awareness and align their thoughts with their actions. Mindful meditation is useful for all of these purposes. What is true for everyone, however, is that the more you know about your thinking, the more you are in control of your life.
Whatever the reason, mindful meditation can be a powerful force. Like music, life has many layers, and mindful meditation can help you become aware of all the nuances.
Mindful meditation isn’t magic. It allows you to concentrate your awareness on the here and now. All too frequently, our attention can scatter into the past or the future. We become distracted and unable to focus on what is important in the present.
Mindful meditation gives us the power to focus on the here and now. It increases our mental energy, allowing us to perform better and achieve more. Quite simply, mindful meditation makes us more efficient in many areas of our lives.
More importantly, it puts us in control. The mind is an extremely complex labyrinth, where the subconscious can rule and throw roadblocks in our path. There are times we behave in certain ways without being consciously aware of why. Mindful meditation increases our awareness and opens our minds to more answers. Our senses are heightened as we enjoy the present more fully. Everyday activities, from what we eat, how we enjoy art and listen to music, and how we respond to friends and family become more vivid as mental walls crumble.
Mindful meditation relaxes us. With awareness, stress and unpleasant thoughts become less threatening and easier to handle.
We become more relaxed and are able to let more joy and peace into our lives.
Today, we live in a state of impermanence more than ever before in history. More than a hundred years ago, most people spent their lives in the town in which they were born. They knew all their neighbors. Their station in life determined their job. It may not sound ideal to us, but it certainly wasn’t stressful. These days, we live very fragmented lives. We may move regularly and barely know our neighbors. We switch jobs and friends on a regular basis.
Constant change has become the one permanence on which we can rely. There’s no denying that modern knowledge and conveniences have brought us untold advantages. However, at the same time, we have lost our connection to others and our surroundings. Mindful meditation brings back that important lost connection to what is happening inside of us and around us. It’s not an antidote to the problems of living in the 21st century, but it can provide the skills to help us cope with many of its problems.
You don’t have to be a yogi to reap the benefits of mindful meditation. The more you practice, the better you will become. It’s like exercise for the mind. You know what daily exercise does for your body. It strengthens and firms those muscles.
In much the same way, daily mindful meditation strengthens your mind and hones your thinking process. It’s both simple and complex, and at all times, it’s a choice. Hopefully, this book will help you make the right one for you. Consistency is the key to successful practice. Even a short meditation period every day is more effective than sporadic longer meditations.
Like physical exercise, mindful meditation is a process. Success doesn’t happen overnight. But it will happen. When you begin your meditation journey, you may find it difficult to sit quietly for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. You may start making excuses why it’s okay to skip meditation for just one day.
This will make it harder to resume meditating the following day, and you’ll easily find an excuse why you shouldn’t. You’re too tired, too busy, too frustrated … any excuse will do. That’s why making a commitment to regular meditation is necessary. Ask yourself what motivated you in the first place. Make a pact with yourself that you will get up half an hour earlier in the morning to meditate. With a firm commitment, you will gain momentum and see the results.
Mindful meditation is unrivaled in its ability to open your mind. If you are new at mindful meditation, it is helpful that you ask yourself what has motivated you to start meditating at this time. There is, however, no right or wrong reason.
Mindful meditation is actually very simple, yet it comes with great benefits.
The Origin Of Mindful Meditation
It’s a Western practice with roots in thousands of years of Buddhism, where it’s referred to as “Insight Meditation.” As that name suggests, it is meant to develop our mental skills and become more aware. However, mindful meditation is not associated with any specific ideology.
Mindfulness is a skill we all possess, but not all of us develop and cultivate it fully. The unique thing about mindful meditation is that it allows us to take an active part in our thinking process instead of remaining passive. It’s more than being aware of the world around us; it specifically refers to that exciting and sometimes mysterious world inside of us. Mindfulness increases our awareness of ourselves and how we think. It’s an effective way of knowing ourselves better.
Mindful meditation is always purposeful and non-judgmental. We calmly accept and acknowledge what is. Instead of moving through the day on autopilot, mindful meditation allows us to be more present and gain more control over our thoughts and activities. This invariable enrich our lives beyond measure.
Mindfulness To Tackle Daily Challenges
When we practice mindful meditation consistently, we gain an inner calm that will help us deal with life’s many challenges. How often have we become so stressed that we have consciously avoided thinking about our problems, which then only worsen as we become more stressed? Sometime, it may feel easier not to think at all. But in the long run, reality will take over.
Non-judgmental awareness allows us to remove ourselves mentally from the mental tsunami and remain calm in times of adversity. We become more connected to our experiences in a healthy, non-threatening way.
On a basic human level, it’s natural for us to push aside unpleasant thoughts by distracting ourselves from what is really important. Addictions to alcohol, drugs and social media are just some of the ways we avoid dealing with the present.
This obviously is not helpful and merely generates greater anxiety and stress. Daily mindful meditation keeps us focused on the present and helps us deal with problems rather than avoiding them. Fortunately, becoming more aware is a skill that can be learned. Like playing a musical instrument or a sport, the more we practice, the better we become at it.
The Positive Impact Of Mindful Meditation Mindful meditation has moved from the mystical to the mainstream. Many studies have confirmed the benefits of regular mindful meditation.
1. Less stress-related illnesses
2. Better sleeping habits
3. Lower blood pressure
4. Better immune system
5. More energy
6. Better pain management
7. Better decision-making ability
8. Greater resilience when faced with adversity
The reason mindful meditation has proven so powerful is that the body and mind are intricately connected. When our emotional state suffers, so does our body. This is especially relevant to stress, which can cause many physical problems. As a result, mindful meditation not only improves our mental health but our physical health, as well.
In the past, doctors have concentrated on prescribing medication for anxiety and stress-related symptoms. However, following a myriad of studies in recent years, doctors are now recognizing the value of mindfulness and recommending mindful meditation as a treatment instead of prescribing pharmaceutical drugs.
A study at John Hopkins University showed that 20 percent of 3,500 patients using mindful meditation showed improvement in symptoms of depression as opposed to the placebo group. These numbers are the same for patients using anti-depressants. That means meditation has the same effect on our brain as medication. Interestingly, these patients only meditated two and a half hours each week. That’s how powerful mindful meditation can be. The study concluded that if patients were to spend even more time meditating, they would see even better results.
Neuroscience has revealed that people who meditate regularly show an increase in gray matter in brain regions that regulate emotions and learning. Similar studies have found that areas of the brain that process fear a decrease in size. Science is providing a connection between meditating and brain waves, and studies are continuing.
Another study showed that three months of regular meditation affected enzyme activity that controls how we age. This important finding could link meditation to a slowing of the aging process.