Though the basic purpose of meditation is to reduce stress in your mind and body, it is never about discarding or avoiding the thoughts or emotions that are stressing you out.
Meditation, at its core, is about strengthening your mind so that you can better handle your negative emotions.
“The goal of meditation is … to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and learn how to move through them without getting stuck.” – Dr. P. Goldin
There are many types of meditation, like body scan, breath awareness, loving-kindness, transcendental, and mindfulness.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation In Psychology?
Mindfulness meditation is the psychological process of bringing one’s focus to their internal and external experiences in the present moment. It is a type of reflective meditation during which one gains awareness of the feelings, emotions, or thoughts as and when they arise. The main goal of mindfulness meditation is to reduce stress and become more present.
Mindfulness mediation trains our inner observer to be watchfully aware of our thought processes as if we are looking up and watching our thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky. It is somewhat the same as intently watching ourselves in a dream while being aware that we are dreaming.
Mindfulness meditation is a practice of self-awareness in the present moment, without judgment.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the most famous Western researcher on mindfulness and the author of the bestseller Full Catastrophe Living, explains it in the following words:
Mindfulness meditation has been tested and prescribed by clinical psychologists as a proven way to relieve stress, prevent depression and encourage healthier habits.
It has been shown to increase happiness and optimism, enhance creativity and emotional intelligence, and improve attention and resourcefulness.
How Did Mindfulness Meditation Become A Therapeutic Technique?
Mindfulness meditation is an ancient therapeutic technique that has been around for over 2,500 years. It was initially used as a way to manage mental anguish and stress.
The practice of mindfulness meditation gained popularity around the 6th century BCE, from the time of Buddha. Mindfulness meditation was later formally codified by Buddhist teachers and was introduced to the West by Theravada Buddhist monks in the 20th century.
The early Buddhist texts on mindfulness meditation were translated into English in the late 1950s and 1960s, leading to increased interest in this form of meditation.
In the last few decades, mindfulness meditation has grown in popularity as an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, chronic pain, addiction, and other mental health problems.
The practice of mindfulness meditation has some key differences when compared to other forms of meditation such as transcendental or Vipassana. It is often described as more “active” and “in the moment”.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is a pioneer in the field of mindfulness studies. His work since the 1970s has been instrumental in bringing mindfulness to mainstream medicine and society.
The first edition of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness” was published in 1990, which popularized these practices among professionals outside traditional Asian communities.
Kabat-Zinn is also the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, USA.
What is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)?
In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic and Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The clinic’s goal was to spread awareness about the benefits of mindfulness through research and education. The clinic offered a variety of programs that taught mindfulness to patients with chronic pain, anxiety, depression, HIV/AIDS, and cancer.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR, is a program that was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is intensive mindfulness training including meditation, yoga, body awareness, behavioral awareness, and emotional awareness. MBSR helps people cope with their stress-related disorders.
MBSR investigates one’s present experience in relation to their current thoughts, memories, and physical and emotional sensations, in order to enhance understanding, acceptance, and reduction of suffering. Participants learn how to become more mindful and live in the present moment.
MBSR is a widely used and accepted, scientifically supported intervention for a variety of psychiatric and physiological illnesses, as well as a program for improving well-being (Hofmann, et al., 2010).
MBSR has been shown to be effective for stress management and improving the quality of life for those who have chronic pain, cancer, anxiety disorders, depression, and other conditions (Baer, Carmody, & Hunsinger, 2012; Brown & Ryan, 2003; Hofmann et al., 2010).
Neuroimaging studies have begun to show how MBSR impacts specific forms of emotion regulation in individuals with Seasonal Affective Disorder or “winter blues” (Goldin et al., 2012).
How To Practice Mindfulness Meditation In Daily Life?
Mindfulness meditation is simple enough to be included as a part of your daily life.
Essentially, it involves settling down in a place free of distractions or interruptions and focusing the mind on present experiences. Most often, it means being sharply aware of your breathing process in each moment while remaining open, curious, accepting, and non-judgmental.
In brief, we meditate mindfully by sitting in a quiet and comfortable place, focusing on our breath as it flows in and out, and gently monitoring the clutch of thoughts and emotions that pass through our minds.
To know more and get started, read this easy guide (with downloadable PDF): 7-Step Beginner Guide To Mindfulness Meditation.
Practicing mindfulness can help you become more self-aware, which can let you better understand your thoughts and feelings. The first step is to accept the present moment for what it is.
Mindfulness is about being in the moment and not worrying about what happened in the past or what will happen in the future. It frees you from worrying and overthinking.
It’s also about letting go of judgments and biases that lead you to make bad decisions.
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Do you know about the R.A.I.N. Method of Mindfulness Meditation?
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental health, happiness, positive psychology, mindfulness, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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