Over the past ten years, there’s been a huge increase in the practice of mindfulness meditation – here’s a look at how it can help you.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a type of meditation. The term mindfulness simply refers to a heightened state of awareness.
It’s a Buddhist concept, defined as ‘moment-by-moment awareness’ or ‘a state of psychological freedom that occurs when attention remains quiet and limber, without attachment to any particular point of view’.
When you’re being mindful, you’re living in the moment. You’re completely aware of your thoughts and experiences, without passing judgement.
How can being mindful help improve my health?
Most research into mindfulness meditation considers how the brain responds to the practice.
According to researchers from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, mindfulness meditation has shown positive results in regards to:
- Reducing and regulating stress levels – for example, students who meditated experienced a faster decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a stressful laboratory task
- Reducing symptoms related to anxiety and depression
- Heightening empathy
- Producing antibodies for immunity
The researchers also suggested that mindfulness can benefit family relationships, – particularly in families with children who have special needs.
Increased satisfaction with parenting, more social interactions with their children, and less stress were noted when parents of special needs children practiced mindfulness.
How do I practice mindfulness?
The aim of mindfulness meditation is to focus on your breathing and clear your mind.
According to mindful.org, here’s how you can get started being more mindful:
- Find a quiet, uncluttered spot where nobody will interrupt you for a while
- Ensure there is plenty of natural light and no distractions
- You might want to set aside an amount of time for your first few sessions – so you’re not thinking about stopping
- Sit comfortably, in a position you can stay in for a while
- When you’re feeling settled, the first step is to follow your breath as you breathe in and out
- Become aware of your breath – your deep inhalations, and your exhalations following the air as it leaves your lungs
- As your mind naturally wanders, gently bring it back to your breath
- That’s it! The longer you do it, the easier it will become – and you’ll soon start to notice positive changes as a result of your meditation
Simply put, mindfulness meditation is about noticing your internal distractions and bringing your focus back to your breathing.
You shouldn’t be expected to ‘get it right’ the first time – or even in subsequent practices. Bringing your attention back to focus on your breathing is very much part of the practice.
Where can I find out more about mindfulness?
- Mind Australia – https://www.mindaustralia.org.au/resources/recovery-and-well-being/mindfulness.html
- Living Well – https://www.livingwell.org.au/mindfulness-exercises-3/
- Mindfulness Matters Australia – http://mindfulnessaustralia.net.au/resources