Before we dive into all the benefits of practicing Mindfulness and Meditation. Let’s get to know What is Mindfulness?
The Fundamentals of Mindfulness Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. According to our renown Teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn;
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally.” Mindfulness is a ‘fully-conscious’ state of living that enables us to relate to our experiences with higher accuracy and clarity. Much of Western society perceives mindfulness to be ‘emptying one’s head of thought’, whereas the exact opposite is true. Mindfulness involves being acutely aware of our thoughts, emotions, and why we do what we do. It means being aware in the moment and paying close attention to what is happening in the ‘here and now’, instead of focusing on our past memories or future predictions.
Basically, it is what we see, do hear, smell, and feel; whatever our sensory organs receive (five senses) at that moment and what we think (our thoughts). Today, it is addressed to help us stay grounded in the ‘fight-flight’ moments in our current life’s demand. It helps to develop our ability to overcome unfavourable emotions, limiting thought patterns and unhelpful attitudes or habits. Whilst, practicing mindfulness allows us to be fully engaged in the present moment as an inherent ability necessary to our overall well-being.
How practicing mindfulness can help us to stay grounded?
I’d like to briefly explain how our brain works. Neuroscience has shown that our brain rewires itself with every experience we encounter. This process is called neuroplasticity. When we practice doing something, the more connected are the neurons in our brain, the stronger the connections the faster the messages travel and more automatic they become. This is how habits are created. Good or bad.
Research shows that almost half of what we do is habitual. Good habit such as putting on a seat belt, brushing our teeth etc. What about bad habits such as negative self-talk or labeling? Most of our behaviour are repeated in a same scenario, same circumstance, same people, same time, same location or same feeling. So, when we do something often enough; in a consistent way; which produce the same feeling; and when this same scenario with the same negative feeling are repeated, we label ourselves based on our behaviour in a specific situation. Then, once it gets established, our behaviour or habit is formed. It becomes automatic. Often, when we are in an ‘auto-pilot’ mode, we tend to react to the same environmental queues or circumstances instead of responding consciously.
It is very difficult to change a behaviour or a habit, but it can be done through bringing conscious awareness or mindfulness to these unhealthy behaviours or habits. It simply means bringing the ‘invisible and unconscious’ to ‘visible and conscious’, thus allowing us to be able to choose our responses whether to follow the unhealthy habit or otherwise.
Practicing mindfulness is like building up a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Only rather than building up a muscle, practicing mindfulness strengthens our mind (mental push-ups). Mindfulness is a life enhancing skill that enables us to expand our conscious awareness and general presence. Mindful awareness allows us to become more sensitive to what is occurring in the present moment, both within ourselves and also in the outside world.
Meditation is a practice where an individual focuses his or her mind on a particular meditation object, thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear, present moment, non-judgemental, and emotionally calm and kind state. It may be done while sitting,
walking, repeating a mantra, and/or any daily activity. Meditation is simply a tool we use to cultivate mindfulness.
There are many benefits; both scientifically and experien