Mindfulness is the moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, experiences, and environment. It is our basic human ability to be fully present and aware of what and who we are in every moment. The tendency to attempt to focus on several things at once interferes with our ability to fully focus on the present moment. Our mind is easily distracted, dwelling on past events or critically contemplating future events. The past and the future only exist within what we create in our mind. The only thing that actually exist is the present moment. Being mindful in the present moment offers us a clean slate, a new beginning, a return to self. With the help of mindfulness, we are more present in our lives, cultivating conscious awareness without judgment of our experiences or setting unrealistic expectations for our future. For many of us, paying attention to the present moment without judgment can be a challenge. We naturally harbor opinions, mindsets and false perceptions that distort our reality. We unknowingly project the past onto our future, fall into the trap of our negatively conditioned mind and ego, and remain stuck in our false beliefs and unnecessary suffering.
Through the practice of mindfulness meditation, you will learn to focus on the present moment regardless of external circumstances. Awareness of thought enhances your physical and mental wellbeing and leads to increased success in your wellness journey. The three overarching purposes of mindfulness include knowing the mind, training the mind, and freeing the mind. The practice of mindfulness helps nourish and reinforce your inner ability to restore wellbeing.
Meditation is a practical tool used to observe inner and outer experiences with compassion, acceptance and neutrality. It is a practice that helps the mind develop skills to manage issues related to our thought processes, challenging false self-perceptions, mental distortions and false beliefs that result in unhappiness, frustration and depression. The practice of meditation, enhances positive perception, self- awareness and complex thinking. Regular and consistent practices promotes calmness, inner stability, and reduced impulsivity, reactive behaviors and inner stability.
Stress serves as a major link to our overall health and wellbeing due to the release of cortisol and adrenaline. As a result, our “fight or flight” reflex increases our heart rate, elevates blood pressure and boots energy supplies. Although this can be beneficial in short periods of time, prolonged stress can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Many studies have been conducted on the benefits of mindfulness, specifically through the use of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs. MBSR is designed to assist individuals in the release of pain and managing conditions related to life issues by relaxing the mind and body in the present moment. The goal of MBCT is to help individuals change their inner dialog to one that is more productive and positive. Techniques utilized in MBCT include assisting the individual with understanding the correlation between the mind and mood disorders (Riopel, 2020) as well as recovering from the stress and depression that is often associated with physical pain.
Mindfulness encourages our brains to function better and triggers the brain to reorganize, “re-wire” and form new neural connections through neuroplasticity. According to a study conducted by Dr. Lazar, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School, meditation was linked to the slow down and prevention of age-related thinning of the frontal cortex. The study also found that after 8-weeks of participating in various mindfulness exercises such as meditation, yoga, and body scanning, the participants displayed brain volume increases in 4 regions of the brain, the most relevant being the hippocampus (regulation of emotions, learning and memory) and the temporoparietal junction (empathy and compassion). Additionally, the amygdala decreased in size, reducing the “fight-or-flight” response to possible threats, regulating levels of stress and the immediate negative reactions within self and to the environment (Riopel, 2020).
Incorporating mindfulness practices, yoga postures and breath awareness into your personal wellness routine will increase wakefulness of the mind and of bodily sensations, promoting inner healing, and freedom from pain and suffering. Meditation helps restore the body’s natural biorhythms, reduce stress, regulate blood flow, improve muscular health, and enhance sleep and energy levels. Regular meditation practices can reduce negative thinking, increase mental clarity, promote stronger cognitive abilities, ease chronic pain. More importantly, mindfulness practices assist in the ability to remain in the present moment in order to gain awareness of our existence and purpose and achieve inner bliss.
With the vast amount of benefits associated with this mediation and mindfulness practices, I encourage you to consider giving it a try! You are not required to carve hours out of your day in order to experience the benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice you can take with you throughout your day. You can practice mindful breathing, eating, listening and walking. Simply practicing being in the present moment allows your brain to focus mindfully on your environment, body and maintain full awareness of life around you. Simple moments of mindfulness throughout your day significantly changes your life, relationships and health.
How will you practice mindfulness today?
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly” Buddha
Butler, D. (n.d.). Lesson One . In Living in the truth of the present moment (Vol. 1, p. 2018).
Riopel, L. (2020, July 15). Mindfulness and the brain: What does research and neuroscience say? .In Positive Psychology . Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/mindfulness-brain-research-neuroscience/