Health & Fitness

Your Essential Guide to Mindfulness and Mindful Meditation

guide to mindfulness and mindful meditation

Want to know more about what mindfulness is, and ow mindful meditation works? This article covers this, plus explains some of the benefits of this practice. It’s not some hippy thing either; from company CEO and executives down, mindfulness is being practiced by people from all walks of life.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness, as the name suggests, is a state of complete and non-judgmental awareness of the world around you, while also remaining in tuned with the physical sensations and thought processes occurring in the mind and body.

True mindfulness is obtained when you are able to take note of all aspects of an experience, from your own emotional state to the most unobtrusive detail in the environment, and analyse the experience in a way that is free from bias.

Mindfulness practice basically consists of three important elements: i) Intention – why è it means knowing the reason of paying attention consciously and purposefully ii) Attention – what & how it is acknowledging the unfolding of each moment as if the experience goes on in a sustained and focused manner and iii) Attitude – how it is the way one pays attention to every moment in an accepting, caring and unbiased fashion.

Right Mindfulness

Right Mindfulness, also known as Samma Sati, is considered as the seventh element of a very revered 2500 year old eight fold Buddhist traditional path. If cultivated properly, Right Mindfulness can bring an end to one’s mental suffering like stress, anxiety, depression, anger, fear and pain.

Therefore, it is very important to learn the difference between Right Mindfulness and Wrong Mindfulness. Successful cultivation of Right Mindfulness can only occur if Mindfulness is practiced with a right view, right intention, right thought, right speech, right work, right effort and right concentration.

Beginning mindfulness with the wrong view can create unwholesome intention or unhealthy thoughts that will eventually prevent you from living a healthy and stress free life.

Right View and Right Mindfulness

Right view is the basis of Right Mindfulness. It starts with genuinely appreciating the reality that includes the self, mind and impermanence and its connection with the causes of suffering and its origination. Beginning mindfulness with the right view can help you acknowledge the nature of reality without any judgement or disappoint and thus leads you to a life without suffering.

This is why, Mindfulness England focuses on cultivating Right Mindfulness through various courses, workshops and special retreats in order to help the practitioner achieve a heightened sense of fulfillment and self-empowerment and prevent himself from falling prey to the causes of suffering.

What are the Benefits of Mindfulness?

The benefits of mindfulness are too numerous to count. Mindfulness has been shown to decrease states of distress and depression and trains the mind to remain focused on a positive outlook. Research studies have shown a clear link between mindfulness and the ability to pay attention and marked improvement in visual perception and motor response coordination.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction programs have successfully led to improvements in the symptoms of various psychological disorders and the amount of stress participants reported feeling at the beginning. It has also been shown to increase the quality of sleep in individuals suffering from insomnia.

Moreover, participants of mindfulness-based stress reduction programmes focusing on mindfulness meditation have felt a greater sense of empathy for those around them, and the motivation to take better care of their own physical and mental health and overall physical well-being. This explains why individuals who are mindful tend to report higher levels of satisfaction with their lives as a whole.

The mindfulness course provided by Mindfulness England helps you in: i) Learning stress physiology ii) Learning to recognise the intense emotional states like stress, anxiety or fear iii) Feeling the mind-body connection iv) Learning to use breath as an anchor to mindfulness as well as a bridge between the mind and body v) Learning simple yet practical methods of self-regulation vi) Learning mindfulness of breath vii) Learning mindfulness of sensations viii) Learning mindfulness of emotions ix) Learning mindfulness of sound x) Learning to experience mindfulness in day-to-day life and xi) Learning to experience mindfulness in movement

Mindful Meditation

Mindful meditation teaches you to see the world with focus and clarity, pushing away the intrusive and repetitive thoughts we have become so used to that they seem like natural. Instead of wondering what you should do or say next, or why the other person is behaving as they are, you simply observe and allow yourself to take in the details of the experience with a quiet mind.

All preconceived beliefs regarding the way others think and behave are left behind, and you are given the opportunity to experience the world for what it is.

Origin of Mindfulness meditation

The first mindfulness meditation was introduced by Kabat-Zinn in 1982, and was targeted toward the reduction of stress. Kabat-Zinn’s method involved a four-step process to move toward a quiet mind and mindful living. The “Mindful Sitting Meditation” focuses the individual’s attention on their breathing techniques, while also bringing attention to bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts.

Kabat-Zinn’s method begins with a “Body Scan”, or moving perceptive attention slowly from head to toe, consciously exploring the reach and shape of each body part and analyzing the sensations they provide in the moment. The second phase is quite similar to yoga and involves taking the new level of bodily attention and awareness learned in the “Body Scan” and applying it to “Mindful Movement”.

Following the “Body Scan” and “Mindful Movement” exercises, Kabat-Zinn encourages taking a “3-Minute Breathing Space”. This simply involves sitting or standing in a body-aware pose, and allowing yourself time to simply breathe. All thoughts should be cleared away, and the focus should be placed on smooth, controlled breathing and mindful awareness of the meditation process.

Finally, a “Loving Kindness Meditation” seeks to increase empathy, which research has established is strongly linked to mindfulness. In this step, the goal is to analyse your own feelings toward others and to move toward greater feelings of compassion and love for those around us. This step closely mirrors the collectivist mind-set found in the Buddhist traditions that mindfulness meditation sprang from.

Benefits of mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness based meditation is a simple practice that, when practiced daily, can aid in reducing feelings of stress, depression, and other psychological symptoms, while increasing feelings of empathy, compassion, focus, attention, and life satisfaction.

By working towards a quiet mind and engaging in mindfulness mediation, you may find yourself experiencing a higher quality of sleep, improved motor coordination, and new-found peace with your worldly experiences. You will soon find that you are focused in the present and able to truly appreciate the complexities of your experiences in a way that you never have before.

Mindfulness meditation has great benefits. There are plenty of articles and videos abound. In a nutshell, these are about 100 benefits that meditation can easily provide:

Physical benefits:

1.It lowers oxygen consumption.
2. It decreases respiratory rate.
3. It increases blood flow and slows the heart rate.
4. Increases exercise tolerance.
5. Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation.
6. Good for people with high blood pressure.
7. Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
8. Decreases muscle tension.
9. Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis etc.
10. Reduces Pre-menstrual Syndrome symptoms.
11. Helps in post-operative healing.
12. Enhances the immune system.
13. Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress
14. Enhances energy, strength and vigour.
15. Helps with weight loss.
16. Reduction of free radicals, less tissue damage.
17. Higher skin resistance.
18. Drop in cholesterol levels, lowers risk of cardiovascular disease.
19. Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.
20. Decreases the aging process.
21. Higher levels of DHEAS (Dehydroepiandrosterone)
22. Prevented, slowed or controlled pain of chronic diseases
23. Makes you sweat less.
24. Cures headaches & migraines.
25. Greater Orderliness of Brain Functioning.
26. Reduced Need for Medical Care.
27. Less energy wasted.
28. More inclined to sports and physcial activities.
29. Significant relief from asthma.
30. Improved performance in athletic events.
31. Normalizes to your ideal weight.
32. Harmonizes our endocrine system.
33. Relaxes our nervous system.
34. Produce lasting beneficial changes in brain electrical activity.
35. Cure infertility (the stresses of infertility can interfere with the release of hormones that regulate ovulation).

Psychological benefits

36. Builds self-confidence.
37. Increases serotonin level that influences mood and behaviour.
38. Resolve phobias & fears.
39. Helps control own thoughts.
40. Helps with focus & concentration.
41. Increases creativity
42. Increases brain wave coherence.
43. Improves learning ability and memory.
44. Increases feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
45. Increases emotional stability.
46. Improves relationships.
47. Mind ages at slower rate.
48. Easier to remove bad habits.
49. Develops intuition.
50. Increased Productivity.
51. Improved relations at home & at work.
52. Able to see the larger picture in a given situation.
53. Helps ignore petty issues.
54. Increases ability to solve complex problems.
55. Purifies your character.
56. Develops will power.
57. Greater communication between the two brain hemispheres.
58. Reacts more quickly and more effectively to a stressful event.
59. Increases one’s perceptual ability and motor performance.
60. Higher intelligence growth rate.
61. Increased job satisfaction.
62. Increase in the capacity for intimate contact with loved ones.
63. Decrease in potential mental illness.
64. Better, more sociable behaviour.
65. Less aggressiveness.
66. Helps in quitting smoking, alcohol addiction.
67. Reduces need and dependency on drugs, pills & pharmaceuticals.
68. Need less sleep to recover from sleep deprivation.
69. Require less time to fall asleep, helps cure insomnia.
70. Increases sense of responsibility
71. Reduces road rage.
72. Decrease in restless thinking.
73. Decreases tendency to worry.
74. Increases listening skills and empathy.
75. Helps make more accurate judgement.
76. Greater tolerance.
77. Gives composure to act in considered & constructive ways.
78. Grows a stable, more balanced personality.
79. Develops emotional maturity.

Spiritual benefits:

80. Helps keep things in perspective.
81. Provides peace of mind and happiness.
82. Helps you discover your purpose.
83. Increased self-actualization.
84. Increased compassion
85. Growing wisdom.
86. Deeper understanding of yourself and others.
87. Brings body, mind and spirit in harmony.
88. Deeper Level of spiritual relaxation.
89. Increased acceptance of oneself.
90. Helps learn forgiveness.
91. Changes attitude toward life.
92. Creates a deeper relationship with your God.
93. Attain enlightenment.
94. Greater inner-directedness.
95. Helps living in the present moment.
96. Creates a widening, deepening capacity for love.
97. Discovery of the power and consciousness beyond the ego.
98. Experience an inner sense of “Assurance or Knowingness”.
99. Experience a sense of “Oneness”
100. Increases the synchronicity in your life.

Photo by Yan from Pexels