You might view mindfulness meditation as something that happens only in a hip Bali yoga retreat, after a day surfing and consuming smoothie bowls in the sun. However, this form of meditation isn’t exclusive, and you’d be surprised how easy it is to incorporate into daily life along with the benefits that come with it.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness refers to the act of being present, your senses entirely aware of what is happening right now. It means being in the moment in a completely calm manner, not worrying about the future, past or present. You’re still acknowledging thoughts that spring into your mind but not the emotions that come with them.
Meditation is the practice of achieving calm and awareness through different practices. The goal is to train the mind to reach a clear and calm state usually by using mindfulness tactics or focusing on a specific thought, activity or object. There are many types of meditation, mindfulness meditation is just one of them.
So what does putting mindfulness and meditation together look like? It teaches you to slow your mind through breathing practice, mental imagery and awareness. It lets you acknowledge each thought, but not react to it. The goal is to objectively accept each thought that comes into your head, but not stress. This practice usually involves setting yourself up on a mat with no distractions. You don’t need any fancy props, just you and a clear head. The aim is to take these lessons learnt from your meditation time, into everyday life.
How do you meditate?
If you’ve never practised mindfulness meditation before, plonking yourself on the floor and trying to think of calm probably isn’t going to suffice. There are many great apps and youtube videos which can guide you through a full meditation. For the mediation newbie, this is probably the best place to start. Keep it short to begin with, you’ll gradually be able to increase the time mediating as you train your mind to slow down.
These guided meditations usually focus on breath awareness. This includes being aware of your breath, the slowness, the feeling in your stomach as you breathe in and out. Paying attention to this usually helps find your calm as you acknowledge the present thoughts in your head.
The benefits of mindfulness meditation are endless but do require you to regularly practise.
Helps manage anxiety
These techniques have been shown to reduce anxiety and can be used as a managing tool. Being aware and present is a grounding tactic that can stop you from worrying too much about future thoughts. If you suffer from anxiety, combining all your senses to be in the present can help when you're feeling overwhelmed.
You should find the methods used in your practice transfer to everyday life. Being present will help you handle stressful situations at work, engage more in social life and prevent feelings of worry regarding the future.
Mindfulness meditation inevitably relieves stress. There have been multiple studies completed that prove its value in this area. A long-term build-up of stress can be an instigator for anxiety and other mental health issues. Included mindful meditation in your week should help reduce stress levels.
Not sleeping well is usually due to stress and having too much on your mind. Practising mindfulness meditation can help if you’re struggling with falling straight to sleep. Bedtime is often when the stressed thoughts like to rear their head, by using techniques learnt in mediation you can hopefully put a stop to these. Here's an article on the importance of sleeping.
You learn more about yourself
Meditation allows you to reflect inwards and spend more time with your thoughts. By learning more about how you think, you’ll not only be able to understand yourself better but your interactions with others too.
Regular practising has been shown to reduce blood pressure levels and therefore reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s not a cure, but could potentially help in the prevention. It’s also shown that meditation can be useful for managing pain. If you suffer from chronic pain or have an injury you may want to give mindful meditation a go.