Understanding Mindfulness Meditation
By Tamara Warta, LifeScript.com
In our fast-paced world there are plenty of stress relievers available, but for many, mindfulness meditation seems to be rising to the top of the list. A derivative of Buddhist teachings from more than 2500 years ago, mindfulness involves bringing an individual’s awareness back to present time. The more people learn to “live in the moment” in such a spiritual way, the more tuned in they become to the inner and outer workings of everyday reality. Our minds are easily plagued by judgments and internal dialogue concerning other people and what they think of us. Mindfulness attempts to break that cycle and give us a pure and more refined outlook toward the world.
The Mantra of Mindfulness
The whole concept of mindfulness meditation is based upon the common knowledge that happiness does not come from what we have, as much as what we do with what we have. Focusing on this inner reality and understanding, we quickly learn that when we purge our soul of negative thoughts and attachments to situations and relationships that are damaging to us, we begin to improve how we think and feel in outer surroundings as well. Culture plagues us with the idea that more “stuff” equals happiness, and this can be either physical objects or empty friendships. Having a meditative mindset puts us back in life’s driver seat, which in turn reduces our amount of negative reactions to external issues we encounter. Some people call this process “taking thoughts captive,” while others view it as the ultimate power found in positive thinking.
Bringing the Mindfulness Practice into Your Life
One of the most appealing parts of mindfulness is that it doesn’t involve a lot of knowledge of Eastern religion, nor does it require you to commit to a certain faith or set of rules. There are plenty of meditative variants, but many demand extensive study and skill honing. Mindfulness meditation does not need to be a meditation exercise at all, but rather a process you can experience any time. You don’t need to sit in a certain position, and you don’t need to train your body to effectively perform special breathing techniques. When it comes to mindfulness, you just need to “be.” Many people find mindfulness through simple life experiences such as hearing trees blowing in the breeze or the sound of rain hitting a window pane. Simple sounds we often take advantage of can bring a tremendous comfort and strong “center” to our existence.
When we begin to enjoy simple sounds, smells and sights, we are more readily able to deal with negative thoughts and emotions. If we are tired of walking, but still have a mile to go until we can crash on our living room couch, we can focus on the sounds around us and be encouraged by the thought of taking time to enjoy nature and the beauty of being outside. This is a perfect example of mindfulness and how it can empower you to both experience and release a more positive vibe in life.
In turn, you will start to live your days filled with more health and hope than you ever thought possible.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction is exceptionally popular with those who struggle with thoughts of depression or anxiety, but do not agree with prescription medications or controversial new-age treatments in order to lift the clouds away. Practicing mindfulness, or something similar, is ideal for this large demographic who want to remain 100% in control of their thoughts and feelings, without having to rely on anything artificial to do so. Mindfulness gives the power back to the individual, rather than increasing the feelings of helplessness some of us struggle with.
Mind Over Matter, Or Using Matter for the Mind
Beyond the basic outline of mindfulness and its capabilities, many participate in what is known as continuous mindfulness practice. This involves partaking in training exercises that help to develop a heightened awareness within a person’s own environment. This is found in routine sounds, such as a grandfather clock chiming on the hour, cracks in a sidewalk or traffic lights found on a daily commute. Perfect for busy and overcommitted folks who are looking for a quick solution to otherwise unsettling days, this method is perfect when you are looking to reinvent your life. Using familiar sensory triggers throughout the day can help you feel more rooted in who you are, what your purpose is, and where you are going in life.
This process of taking physical elements of the world and applying them to the mind is now being promoted heavily in the West by psychologists who are aiding patients in the relief of stress and anxiety. It is also applied to various forms of physical therapy, namely to help people deal with chronic pain issues. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry recently reported that mindfulness stress reduction actually prevented a fair amount of suicide attempts in 2006, and its positive effects on mental illness in particular have been recognized and applauded by many mental-health professionals.
Getting to a place of mindfulness does not command a lot of time. Most experts in such meditation techniques recommend spending 10-20 minutes in the relaxed state of mind.
Some people confuse mindfulness with mindlessness! Mindfulness meditation does not mean checking out from reality, but quite the opposite. It helps you to embrace reality and re-evaluate your life with a more rational and healthy perspective. Meditation exercises do not require a complete clearing of the mind. In fact, many thoughts will come to the surface when you finally take the time to be still and process.
The technique comes in when you can acknowledge the thoughts and release them without causing a hindrance. The whole goal of mindfulness is to discourage self-absorption and find joy and peace in all of the daily encounters of life. Some succeed at this better than others; however, most agree that mindfulness is a helpful addition to their life.
source: Tamara Warta, LifeScript.com