“In Mindfulness practice, just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.”– Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
Mindfulness meditation is a centuries-old practice advocated by the Great Buddha to attain spiritual and psychological enlightenment whereby greed, hatred and false illusion have been overcome. It involves focusing on your thoughts and action in the present without judging yourself.
Mindfulness meditation is made up of two parts, namely:
- Mindfulness is the state of being aware and attentive to yourself as you really are, without your personal perception or judgement.
- Meditation is engaging in a mental exercise for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness or mindfulness. It is usually done by concentrating on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra. This is oftentimes accompanied with the playing of special music in the background to aid reach this effect.
Step-by-step guide in mindfulness meditation:
There are certain conditions that are helpful for the practice of mindfulness. The ideal place to meditate should not be too noisy or disturbing. Mentally, you should not be in a situation where your mind is going to be easily provoked into anger or jealousy or other emotions. These will affect your meditation.
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie on. Position your head, neck and back straight but not stiff.
- Put aside all thoughts of the past and the future and stay in the present.
- Concentrate on your breathing, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.
- Be aware of every thought that come and go, whether it is 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.
- When you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and simply return to your breathing. Remember not to be hard on yourself if this happens.
- As the time draws to a close, sit for a minute or two, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually.
The many benefits of Mindfulness Meditation:
The following psychological researches and studies have proven the many benefits of Mindful Meditation by enhancing body awareness, self-awareness, and by the regulation of attention as well as of emotions:
- Mindful meditation can lower stress by decreasing the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. The U.S. Marine Corps is now studying how mindfulness meditation training can improve the troops’ performance and its ability to handle and recover from stress.
- Mindful meditation lets a person know his/her real self when doing objective self analyses. A psychological study shows that mindfulness can conquer common “blind spots” which can amplify or lessen one’s own flaws beyond reality.
- Researchers from the University of California say that mindful meditation can improve the verbal reasoning and working memories of students.
- A study in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Disease proves that mindful meditation helps arthritis sufferers handle stress better although it does not actually lessen their pain.
- The University of Oregon researchers find that integrative body-mind training, a meditation technique, can result in brain changes that may be protective against mental illness.
- A study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience shows that mindful meditation helps the brain to have better control over processing pain and emotions, specifically through the control of cortical alpha rhythms which play a role in what senses the minds is focused.
- A study in the journal Psychology of Music says that mindful meditation improves the concentration on music thus making the music sound better.
- Research from the University of Rochester Medical Centre shows that doctors who train in mindfulness meditation are less judgmental, more self-aware, and interact with their patients better.
- Researchers from universities from Northeastern and Harvard find that meditation is linked with more virtuous behaviour. It also makes people more compassionate according to a study in the journal Psychological Science.
- Research from the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Centre of Integrative Medicine shows that mindfulness meditation, together with art therapy, can make cancer less distressful.
- Researchers from the University of California find that mindful meditation could help the elderly feel less lonely. Loneliness can make the elderly more vulnerable to a number of health conditions.
- Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Health find that mindful meditation lessen the discomforts of colds.
- Dr. Maria Muzik, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, says that mindful meditation lowers depression risk among pregnant women. It also lowers depression among teens according to the University of Leuven
- Mindful meditation supports weight-loss goals as the findings of the survey conducted by the Consumer Reports and the American Psychological Association show. It has been considered an “excellent” or “good” strategy for weight loss by 75% of psychologists in the survey.
- A University of Utah study shows that mindfulness training can help in better control of emotions and moods, thus promoting better sleep at night.