Mindfulness Meditation – Live In The Moment And Beat Stress
We spend so much time thinking over stuff that happened in the past, or worrying about things that may happen in the future, that often we forget to actually appreciate or enjoy the moment.
As a result we live in a painful past or future, and life feels very difficult.
We can get carried away and our mind can carry us from one idea to the next, without us being truly aware of this process. This mental chatter is a result of a lack of mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation is a valuable skill that has been taught for thousands of years in many of the world’s religions and is becoming widely popular as an adjunct to conventional medical and psychological therapies in the recent years.
There has been a lot of research recently, showing the effects of mindfulness meditation on the brain and the remarkable positive effects on blood pressure, sleep, stress levels, immune system and overall health.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is the ability to be aware of your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and actions in the present moment, without judging or criticising yourself or your experience.
It is the act of deliberately paying attention to the present moment, not worrying about anything that went on in the past or that might be coming up in future.
The practice of meditation has the power to restore body’s natural state of balance, reactivate the immune system and maximize the body’s own healing potential.
The slow and deep breathing involved in mindfulness meditation may alleviate bodily symptoms of distress by balancing the nervous system responses.
Mindfulness is a way of taking charge of your life.
A new study has found that participating in an 8-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions even when someone is not actively meditating.
A 2010 study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, demonstrated that, among patients with remitted depression, a single, eight-week meditation class was just as effective in preventing relapse as 18 months of continued medication.
Another group of researchers looked at how mindfulness has helped with anxiety management across various types of populations, from people suffering with cancer, to those with social anxiety disorders and eating disorders.
The 39 scientific studies and total of 1,140 participants suggested that the anxiety reducing benefits from mindfulness might be enjoyed across such a wide range of conditions because when you learn mindfulness, you learn how to work with difficulties and stress in general.
Psychological stress often plays a significant role in intensifying physiological pain. New research from the Shamatha Project at the Centre for Mind and Brain at the University of California suggests that mindfulness meditation techniques can help lower the stress hormone cortisol levels.
Neuroscientists from Stanford found that people who practiced mindfulness meditation for 8 weeks were more able to turn down the reactivity in a part of our brains called the amygdala, which triggers fear and aggressive behaviour.
Basic Mindfulness Meditation Skills:
- Find a comfortable position—sitting on the floor or in a chair, even lying down. Gently close your eyes.
- Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air downward into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand fully.
- Now breathe out through your mouth. Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation
- Simply follow the flow of your breath, being aware of the movement of air into and out of your body.
- Count your breaths. This will help you focus your attention, and will also help you calm your mind.
- Focus on the physical experience of breathing. Observe the rising and the falling of your chest and stomach as you inhale and exhale.
- If your mind wanders, even if you get lost in a daydream, just gently bring your attention back to your breathing as soon as you notice that your mind has strayed.
At first, you may find it very challenging to stay focused on your breath. Your mind has long been in the habit of being anywhere but the present moment.
Mindfulness is a skill that requires practice. Being aware of our thoughts and emotions in every moment is not simple.
The point is not to have a “blank” mind. Instead, the idea is to watch as your thoughts drift by. Acknowledge any thoughts that come up, and then let them go without engaging in them.
Most people get distracted or spend most of their daily lives being unmindful or running on autopilot. As a result, they then get lost, anxious and frustrated when a situation doesn’t happen as they expect it to.
Many people who suffer from chronic anxiety, stress, anger, or depression, tend to get caught in a vicious cycle of negative thoughts and emotions. This can be a difficult habit to break. Through regular mindfulness practice, you can begin to break old habits and thought patterns.
Mindfulness will help you focus on one thing at a time in the present moment, and by doing this you can better control and soothe your overwhelming emotions.
By reserving some time each day to sit in silent mindfulness meditation, you can strengthen your ability to be more mindful – more aware – throughout the day.
Along with this comes decreased stress and a greater sense of well-being, and greater ability to enjoy and appreciate each present moment.
2011, Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation, F. Zeidan et al., The Journal of Neuroscience, April 6, 2011 • 31(14):5540 –5548
2010, Antidepressant Monotherapy versus Sequential Pharmacotherapy and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, or Placebo, for Relapse Prophylaxis in Recurrent Depression, Z. Segal et al., Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 December; 67(12): 1256–1264, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3311113/
2010, The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Therapy on Anxiety and Depression: A Meta-Analytic Review, S. Hoffman, J Consult Clin Psychol. 2010, April; 78(2): 169–183., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2848393/
2010, Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder, Goldin PR, Gross JJ., Emotion. 2010 Feb;10(1):83-91. doi: 10.1037/a0018441.