How to Use Meditation to Practice Mindfulness
The benefits of meditation are becoming increasingly well-known in the field of alternative healthcare. This natural relaxation method is known to ease depression and anxiety, alleviate sleep problems, and boost overall mood.
According to a report in Frontiers in Psychology, people who meditated on a long-term basis (about 20 years) had a significantly higher brain volume than the average individual. As we age, the amount of gray matter in the brain decreases. The study’s authors reported that among those who use this method, there was a higher amount of gray matter in the brain throughout the aging process.
Where does Meditation come from?
Meditation is rooted in Eastern religious traditions. However, many Americans practice it today outside of a religious or spiritual setting – nearly 18 million adults and 1 million children practiced this method in the U.S. in 2012, according to a survey on complementary medicine from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Past studies found that meditation can improve attention, memory, verbal fluency, executive function and creativity.
If you’ve heard or used the term, “my mind is going a mile a minute”, you’re not practicing mindfulness. The word itself, though pretty straightforward, can mean a few things. In general, the term suggests that the mind is fully focused on what is occurring to the body at that very moment. It is the basic human ability to be fully present and not be overwhelmed by what’s happening around us. According to Mindfulness magazine, “When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to others’ well-being. It gives us a time in our lives when we can suspend judgement.”
Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation, to many, is believed to be all in your head; you think about doing something with your current thoughts and worries in your head. But according to the magazine, “meditation begins and ends in the body. It involves taking the time to pay attention to where we are and what’s going on, and that starts with being aware of our body. That very act can be calming, since our body has internal rhythms that help it relax if we give it a chance.” Meditating can be done anywhere and at any time, but if you are just starting out, then you might want to set aside a separate space in the home and some time to practice without being disturbed. Create a calming atmosphere where you would like to sit and practice. Be sure to practice every day for a few minutes at least.
Aside from a daily practice, here’s how you can “tune in” to mindfulness throughout the day –
- Set aside time.
- Observe the present moment.
- Let your judgements go.
- Return to observing the present moment as it is.
- Don’t judge yourself or your mind when thoughts popup.
Need help getting started on Meditation and Mindfulness? Visit https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/.