Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation will allow you to look at your life from a new perspective. From the inside, out. Easier said than done on some days, but so rewarding. It starts with being still, quieting the mind chatter and next, digging deeper.
Embarking on this sort of practice can seem daunting. I want to take the scary out of it for you and give you a simple guide to get started. Often the words, Mindfulness and Meditation, are used interchangeably. Part of the confusion is that they both have numerous meanings. However, in fact, they are quite different. For our purposes, I’ll share a simple way to differentiate the two.
Mindfulness means being aware or focusing on something intently. Being in the present moment. During meditation, you are being mindful. But you can also be mindful throughout your day during various activities, such as: during driving or when you’re eating, playing with your kids or talking on the phone with a friend. Mindfulness has been embraced by millions of people. You find it in the boardroom (Google), the classroom (various school districts), and even our government.
Here are some top ways to be mindful throughout your day:
- Eat slowly and with focus. Enjoy each bite along with your company and the atmosphere you are experiencing.
- Focus on the person who is in front of you as you are talking to them.
- Be 100% present no matter what you are doing — writing an email, texting, driving, working out, walking on the beach, eating, doing the dishes, talking to your children, playing. Whatever you do — do it with all of you!
According to Doing and Being: Mindfulness, Health, and Quiet Ego Characteristics among Buddhist Practitioners, the 2011 research article that published the survey results in the Journal of Happiness Studies [12(4): 575-589], there were five key ways that mindfulness training increased physical and mental health.
- It strengthened the immune system and physiological responses to stress and negative emotions.
- It improved social relationships with family and strangers.
- It reduced stress, depression, and anxiety and increased well-being and happiness.
- It increased openness to experience, conscientiousness, and agreeableness and reduced negative associations with neuroticism.
- It led to greater psychological mindfulness, which included an awareness that is clear, non-conceptual, and flexible; a practical stance toward reality; and present attention to the individual’s consciousness and awareness.
The official definition of Meditation is to engage in contemplation or reflection, usually with a focused mental intent or a single point of reference. According to Psychology Today:
It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment.
For myself, each day begins and ends with prayer and meditation. When I first began meditating, I would use a guided meditation. It would help me relax while staying focused on the nothingness I sought. As my skill increased in this area, I was able to take a few deep breathes while dropping into the space of no-space in almost an instant. When I’m seeking guidance on important issues in my life, meditation is always my first stop. I invite you as well to look within your own heart for God’s direction for your life.
The benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation are mind-blowing. Studies have shown in meditation, EVERY cell in the body is filled with more energy which results in joy, peace, and enthusiasm.
Specifically, here are a few other benefits:
- Reduces stress/Decreases anxiety.
- Adds clarity and peace of mind.
- Lowers high blood pressure.
- Decreases tension in the body.
- Increases serotonin production.
- Improves the immune system.
- Increases the energy level.
- Improves concentration.
- Encourages healthy lifestyle.
- Problems shrink.
- Brings to mind solutions.
The great news about meditation is that the results are cumulative. As you embrace the practice, the benefits will add up. To read the full chapter and book in its entirety, click here More Than Enough: Discover Your Limitless Potential and Live Your Bravest Dream.