Mindfulness and Meditation.
Hi Folks and welcome to this discussion on mindfulness and meditation. In the big picture of things and wanting success in our lives, it helps to have “tools” we can use to help us along our way. Mindfulness and Meditation for me is probably one of the best tools I have available to me every day. Personally, I can honestly say practicing mindfulness and meditation has helped me immensely in my life both physically and mentally. In this blog we will look at :
1. Just what is mindfulness and meditation?
2. What are the benefits of mindfulness and meditation?
3. Where to begin if you wish to practice mindfulness and meditation.
An important point to note about this particular blog article is that it is not based on me quoting sources here and there e.g. “A 2018 study by the university of blah blah has found…..” . None of that here. This is just a story about what mindfulness and meditation have done for me personally !!
Just what is mindfulness and meditation?
According to the online dictionary mindfulness is defined as :
The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
2. 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, used as a therapeutic technique. In every day speak it is often defined as “being in the here and now” I.e. us focusing solely on what is going on directly around us, the sounds, sights, smells. The opposite of that is constantly thinking about the past, future, goals, other people, work, sport, TV shows etc…. In todays’ fast paced world, at least in major regional and metropolitan areas, it isn’t hard to see how we have gone away from our abilities to be in the here and now. Our senses are bombarded daily in our waking as well as in some cases, our sleeping lives. An example of this is our phones. The damn things go everywhere with us, we are rarely truly “alone” with time for us to gather our thoughts.
According to Wikipedia meditation is defined as :
“ a practice where an individual uses a technique, such as focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity, to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.” This technique can be as simple as going into your bedroom, locking the door, sitting up or lying down and focusing on the intricacies of your breathing. An action as simple as this brings you into the “here and now ” quick smart which as discussed before is the practice of mindfulness.
What are the benefits of mindfulness and meditation?
Helps me to “let go”
This is exactly what Mindfulness achieves when we allow it to. By focusing on our immediate surrounds e.g. sights, sounds,smells,the texture of something, this brings us into the here and now. By being in the here and now, we immediately stop thinking about the past, future and this and that etc….hence the letting go and relief from stress causing thoughts etc. Maybe that’s why it is caused mindfulness because when our minds are “full” e.g. paying 100% attention to our immediate situation there is no more “room” upstairs in the old control centre to be thinking about anything else e.g. worries etc. Try this for an experiment, go ahead and become focused on your immediate surrounds e.g. your breathing, sounds and smells around you. Now while in this state try focus on past, present thoughts, worries etc….. I don’t know about you but I can’t do it. I can only focus on one or another. Seeing how the first group of thoughts makes me feel better than the second group, I think I will focus on the first group. Not exactly rocket science is it??
Helps me to be in the moment
Mindfulness and meditation help me to be at the moment when I choose to. It can be as simple as driving down the road and feeling the sun on your arm out the window or just being aware of the white lines on the road disappearing under the car as you cruise. Another great experience can be sitting harbourside and feeling the wind on your face as you watch the yachts tack by and if your close enough hear the wind ruffle their sails as they change course. Can’t half tell I love sailing right??
Gives me time out
As in the first paragraph, mindfulness and meditation give me great time-outs. These can range from 1,5,10 or 20 minute blocks. Of course the shorter ones are easier to take when you are on the go driving or even on a task at work or home. Its as simple as just focusing on your breathing or on your immediate surrounds. I usually feel like my “battery” has been given a mini recharge after these sessions !!
Made me self-aware
I have found that after having practiced this for the last two years, it has made me more self-aware on how I am feeling. An example of this is if I am feeling down etc. Rather than just accepting it and then progressing down the track to where those moods might take me, I usually find myself analysing these moods and basically seeing if I am justified to feel like that. The end result is I either snap out of it or I just go along with it knowing the reasons behind it and also that there is always tomorrow or later on in the day to be feeling better :))
Knocked my “blues”for 6 !!
Using some Australian slang (originating from the game of cricket) I can definitely say this practice has helped to get rid of or at least reduce the impact of negative emotions in my life like anger and depression. Leading on from the previous paragraph, I can say this is the end result of being more self-aware.
Gave me more self-control
I don’t know how to define this outcome of having more self-control but the best way I can explain it is that I have or at least I am aware of a “peace” that is always present in my abdominal area. It’s like a feeling of always having a “battery reserve” that I can call on in stressful situations. It’s especially present directly after a meditation or mindfulness session. Maybe describing it as having this feeling in this area is related to common expressions we hear as “having guts, using your gut instinct or having a gut feeling ”
Better relationships with my teens
Mindfulness has helped me immeasurably in my relationships at home and at work and just in general around everyday people. Being a single parent to two teenagers can be testing sometimes, but its not as stressful if I didn’t have mindfulness in my life. Mindfulness has helped me to be measured and calm in my approach around the usual teen dealings. It has also helped me in occasional dealings with difficult people e.g.being stuck in traffic etc and just being able to observe situations that would have otherwise made me lose my head in years gone by !!
No multi tasking for me, just use the small victories theory!!
Being mindful at work or when doing any task is great as It causes us to do one task at a time. This approach is as opposed to multi tasking and trying to focus on plenty of things at the same time and the end result is a lot of unfinished tasks as compare to one completed task at a time. I find another good trick related to mindfulness is when faced with a difficult or unpleasant task. The key is to aim for the little victories first I.e. do easy bits first that you know will be no problem and after having a few “small victories” it becomes easier to roll on and complete the lot !! The style of getting things done is a personal preference but I know speaking from personal experience doing one thing at a time is more enjoyable and satisfying for me.
Where do I begin if I wish to practice mindfulness and meditation?
My personal recommendation into trying out mindfulness and meditation for the first time is to seek out an individual or group that can guide you through it the first time. There are usually heaps of free groups in your community or for those a bit more isolated geographically go onto YouTube and search for the relevant videos. The best part about all of this is that the cost is usually minimal or free !! Yoga is also another good form of mindfulness and meditation practice to get into. Once you are off and running in how to do it, after that it is pretty much free and as simple as doing your own breathing exercises or getting comfortable, going online e..g YouTube and finding a good guided meditation resource switching that on and then “switching yourself” off :))
Further resources around mindfulness and meditation can be found at the below links.
- Black Dog Institute provides a fact sheet with mindfulness techniques to practice at home.
- Smiling Mind is a free app which helps develop mindfulness skills and can reduce stress.
- Breathe – ReachOut.com is suitable for young people wishing to practice and develop mindfulness.
- Beyond Blue a mental health website forum discussion around mindfulness and meditation.
So there it is folks. I can’t stress enough the real positive change that mindfulness and meditation have had on my life in particular my personal health and relationships that I hold closest to me I.e. my children and immediate family. The effect it has had on my life has turned me around 180 degrees in my thinking. It really is the best tool anyone could have available to them in their life and to top it off, the learning and practicing of it is totally free. Please consider the recommendations of this blog and make mindfulness and meditation a part of your life today.Also, please feel free to leave a comment below related to this blog if desired !!
“Be here and now ”