Meditation is a mental training to improve the ability to focus your attention, and control your emotions. There are many ways to meditate. Mindfulness meditation is one of them. In this post, you will learn a quick method to practice mindfulness in just 7 steps. It’s proven effective, and still easy to do.
Throughout the existence of humans, since thousands of years, people have used mindfulness techniques to build awareness into the present moment with calm acceptance — to deal with the stressful facets of life. However, it was systematically codified as a practice of meditation by the Buddhist teachers.
One thing, you don’t always have to go into meditation to practice mindfulness. You can also practice mindfulness without meditating — as mindful eating, walking, and listening.
Mindfulness And Being Mindful
When thoughts and emotions arrive in your mind, but you let them pass without getting carried away, while being aware of them with curiosity but without judgment, you’re in mindfulness. It means you are paying attention to, and conscious of, what’s happening around you and inside you.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the most famous researcher of mindfulness meditation from the West, and the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, explains in following words: Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.
Have you ever realized that attempting to stay peaceful and relaxed just before an extremely challenging event typically has an opposite effect — it uploads an additional bulk of agitation into us? Does it happen to you that trying to get rid of your irksome habits often appears so hard that you almost mark it as impossible?
Does it get to you that a real, deeply satisfying happiness, a state of all-round well-being, often remains elusive, despite us living our fortunate lives?
These, and other such difficult situations that we often find ourselves in today’s world, have been traced to a change that happened in the brains of our earliest ancestors — which they passed down to us. It was a tendency of the humans to go after pleasure, and block out pain, that got biologically hardwired into the brain. We call this the ‘Pain-Pleasure’ principle.
Evolutionary science hints that this automatic behavior pattern got hardwired into our earliest predecessors as a survival mechanism. If they didn’t run from pain, they wouldn’t have survived. And to run from possible pain, they were always looking out for dangers. That jungle-living ancestor’s mind was always on “What’s wrong here that can cause me pain?” mode. It is this that lies as the foundation of the many of our psychological issues that we routinely face in the modern world.
We are on a constant watch looking out for what could go wrong around us today.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness helps us take away the edginess from our minds. Mindfulness meditation reduces stress, outbursts and over-thinking, and increases self-awareness, fulfillment and happiness. Among other benefits, studies have demonstrated decidedly that people who regularly practice mindfulness have:
- improved their health and overall quality of life,
- reduced their anxiety and depression,
- increased their concentration, and
- achieved stronger ability to cope more effectively with day-to-day stresses.
There are scientific proofs to its effects. No less than 21 brain scan studies over the ten years have revealed that long years of mindfulness practice reshapes our brain structure – especially the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), the right anterior insula (RAI) and the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC).
Studies also showed that while long-term stress shrinks our hippocampus (memory center of brain), mindfulness training increases grey-matter density in the same area. Come to think of it, the positive changes it brings about are happening at our brain levels, which is remarkable.
7 Steps to Mindfulness
- First, find a comfortable place where you can focus and will not be disturbed or interrupted.
- Decide how long you’re going to dedicate. Set a timer. You can meditate as short or as long as you like.
- Start with shorter periods, around 5-10 minutes. Tip: 10 min of 24-hours is just 0.7% of your day.
- Now, place yourself in a posture that is both relaxed and alert, with your back reasonably straight.
Invite mindfulness into your daily life. You’ll do yourself a world of good with just 10 minutes out of your 24-hours.
It will boost your happiness levels, better your social relationships, and build your immunity. Mindfulness practice decreases anxiety, stress and pain-perception. It will make you more compassionate and attentive. Some say it will also increase your longevity.
Here’s a 5-minute Guided Mindfulness video:
- 20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today – Emma Seppala.
- Wherever You Go, There You Are – Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Mindfulness – Ellen J Langer
- The Mindfulness Edge – Matt Tenney, Tim Gard
- A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook – Bob Stahl, Elisha Goldstein
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