Mindful meditation is about focusing your attention on the breath in the present moment and noticing your thoughts without judgement or emotion and then returning your attention to your breath over and over again. When practicing Mindful Meditation you are not actually trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings, you’re learning to observe them and let them go without judgment.
Mindful Meditation is an adaptation of an ancient form of Buddhist meditation by the name of Vipassana, without all the Buddhist cultural and religious elements.
Learning and Practicing Meditation
Learning and practicing meditation is much easier and more enjoyable if you have a teacher and you practice in a group setting with guided meditations.
Learning to meditate is like lifting weights in the gym. You shouldn’t start for the first time by yourself, without someone teaching you or showing you what to do. You also don’t usually start out lifting 100 lbs. You may start with only 5 lbs. and you may only be able to do one repetition of lifting that weight, but if you do two reps the next day it means you’ve gotten stronger.
Think of meditating and returning your mind to your breath each time it wanders as doing another rep. Each time you catch yourself it means you are getting stronger or better at meditating. The more you catch your mind wandering and bring it back to your breath without judging yourself, the stronger you get. It’s not failure to discover you’ve just spent the last 2 minutes thinking about what you have to do at work tomorrow. It’s actually SUCCESS! Everyone can do it. It just takes consistent practice to get better at it.
The more you catch yourself thinking during meditation the more easily you will be able to catch yourself at other times having thoughts that cause stress, anxiety, anger, worry, sadness, fear etc., and are then able to stop them and return to the present moment.
Mindful meditation involves one or more of the following:
Awareness of your breath
Awareness of your body position and physical sensations
Whole body muscle relaxation
It is not about rejecting your thoughts, or trying to clamp down on them, nor trying to control anything at all except the gentle focus of your attention without judgment.
Mindfulness Meditation encourages us to be compassionate to ourselves and others. It helps us to remain centered in difficult and stressful times.
By learning how to be mindful and to meditate and then practicing meditation with an eventual goal of a minimum of 20-30 minutes every day, you can expect the following personal and work related benefits:
- General increased feelings of peacefulness
- Increased appreciation for everyday experiences
- Improved sleep due to being able to control repetitive thoughts and being more relaxed
- Improvement in personal and professional relationships
- Fewer occurrences of being distracted by your own thoughts about the past, worries about the future or pre-conceptions and judgements throughout the day
- You’ll notice more often when you are having trouble listening and responding in the most compassionate way.
- You’ll have strengthened cognitive control that will allow you to better focus on a specific goal or task while resisting outside distractions at work or at home.
- Strengthened cognitive control will also allow you to respond in stressful situations more thoughtfully as opposed to reacting emotionally.
- A reduction in lapsing into a robotic response mode caused by over work and repetitive actions, which will allow you to feel more energized and fulfilled at the end of the week.
- Fewer occurrences of making assumptions and selective listening or “tuning out” that lead to missing valuable details of personal conversations and important emotional signals from family members, friends, and co-workers.
Mindfulness and meditation practice allows the nurturing of our mind and body. It gives us the power to use our mind to create the life we want.
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