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Mindfulness Meditation: What Are The Benefits?
Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
- Meditation is beneficial to our physical and mental health
- Meditation can reduce anxiety
- Mindfulness meditation can be learnt easily and does not involve any postures, chants, religious or spiritual practices or rituals
- Mindfulness living can be learnt from Mindfulnes Meditation
- We can practice Mindful Meditation safely while walking, standing in line, on public transport or even while driving
Meditation has been shown to have a calming effect on your mind and body1 During Mindfulness Meditation we pay full attention to the present moment for around 20 minutes. This has been shown to also improve concentration.2
We live in the future...
When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you usually think about?
If you’re like most of us, then you’re thinking about the future from the moment you wake up. Stuff like:
What do I need to do today?
Who do I have to phone/email/text?
I have to take the kids to the dentist after school
I’m meeting with my friend tonight for a drink after work, I can’t wait!
And sometimes we’re worrying:
What if this doesn’t go right?
What if I mess up?
- What if that person lets me down?
All of this goes on in our mind while we’re in the shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast or driving. In fact, right throughout the day. When we’re performing a task that doesn’t take all of our concentration, we’re often already thinking of the next task, and the next. Meanwhile, we’re performing all of these tasks while on autopilot.
...or We Live in the Past
And when we’re not thinking about the future, we’re usually thinking about the past. Stuff like:
I can’t believe she said that
I wish he hadn’t done that
If only I hadn’t made that mistake
I had so much fun yesterday, wish I was still there.
What tasks do you most often perform on autopilot?
'Autopilot' or 'In the moment'?
How often have you eaten your favourite food while watching television, working on your computer or reading a book, then looked at your empty plate in surprise because after that first bite, you don’t remember anything about eating it?
Or how often have you just had to stop for a moment and admire the sunset, or a flower, or the ocean? Remember the pleasure that moment brought you? Of course, not every moment is as beautiful or joyful as watching the ocean or the sunset, but because we always seem to be thinking of a moment other than the one we’re in right now, we often miss out on important stuff that’s going on around us, or even within our own body.
As I said above, mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment. It is noticing and acknowledging all of the body sensations, thoughts and emotions associated with that moment. When we’re practising mindfulness, we’re not thinking about the future or the past.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t plan for the future. But there is a difference between planning for or anticipating the future and constantly ‘living’ in the future.
Meditation for physical and mental health
Meditation, and Mindfulness Meditation in particular, trains us to be present, in the moment. We already know from several studies that any meditation is beneficial to our physical and mental health3. Specifically, meditation has been shown to be helpful for Chronic Anxiety4,and Irritable Bowel Syndrome5; both conditions being associated with stress.6,7.
I came across this article recently which reports amazing results for pain relief with Mindfulness Meditation:
But some people are afraid of meditation, or are unsure of what if involves.
- Mindfulness Meditation does not involve sitting on the floor with your legs crossed in odd positions.
- It does not involve chanting, humming, drumming or movement.
- Mindfulness Meditation does not involve any spiritual or religious beliefs or practices.
- It does not require that you close your eyes.
- In fact, you can even carry out a mindfulness meditation while walking, driving, standing in line or eating
Once you’re familiar with the technique of mindfulness, through mindfulness- meditation, then you can begin to incorporate it into your everyday life.
You can mindfully meditate while walking, on public transport, standing in line or even driving!
Live every moment
We must live through each moment in this life. So, why not live through the moment deliberately, with awareness and thoughtfulness, rather than wasting it by wishing we were in another moment?
A gift from me to you: A Guided Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness Meditation reduces anxiety
Mindfulenss Meditation or indeed Mindfulness Living will not solve all of your problems, but it can reduce anxiety4 and it can help you to stand back from your problems and see them from a different perspective.
Just as we cannot see clearly when something is physically too close to us, neither can we see our problems when we are too close to them.
Taking time out to be in the moment, NOT worrying about the future or fretting about the past, can help us to see our problems from a new perspective, and sometimes to see a solution.
Joy of of watching the ocean to reduce stress
Mindfulness Meditation is not a cure-all...
but it does reduce anxiety4, improve our health5,6,7 and helps us to see our problems from a new perspective. By integrating Mindfulness Living into our everyday lives, we can have more moments like watching the ocean or a beautiful sunset, and less of going through our day on autopilot.
- David M. Levy, Jacob O. Wobbrock, Alfred W. Kaszniak, Marilyn Ostergren. The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Multitasking in a High-Stress Information Environment. Proceedings of Graphics Interface, May, 2012i
- Friedman R, Steinman M, Benson H. The relaxation response: physiological effects and medical applications. In: Haruki Y. ed. Comparative and Psychological studies on meditation. Tokyo: Waseda University Press, 1996: 205-11.
- C. W. Lejuez, et al. "Meditative Therapies For Reducing Anxiety: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis Of Randomized Controlled Trials." Depression & Anxiety (1091-4269) 29.7 (2012): 545-56
- Linda Carlson, et al. "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction For The Treatment Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms: A Randomized Wait-List Controlled Trial." International Journal Of Behavioral Medicine 20.3 (2013): 385-396
- Arias AJ, Steinberg K, Banga A, Trestman RL. Systematic review of the efﬁcacy of meditation techniques as treatments for medical illness. J Altern Comp Med 2006;12(8):817–832
- Ospina MB, Bond K, Karkhane M, et al. Meditation practices for health: State of the research. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. US Department of Health and Human Services Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments, NO. 155. Rockville,MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2007.