By April Murphy
Mindfulness meditation is a mental training practice that teaches you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both mind and body.
Techniques can vary, but in general, mindfulness meditation involves deep breathing and awareness of body and mind. It is the practice of purposely bringing one’s attention to the present moment without judgment.
In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts to treat the chronically ill.
This program sparked the application of mindfulness ideas and practices in medicine to treat a variety of conditions in both healthy and unhealthy people. MBSR and similar programs are now widely applied in schools, prisons, hospitals, and other environments.
Mother of three Sally Wingfield states that practising mindfulness meditation has changed her life.
“I used to suffer from anxiety so badly that it would keep me awake at night. Now I practice mindfulness meditation several times throughout the day and just before I fall asleep of a night. Most nights, I fall asleep while meditating and don’t wake till the next morning,” says Sally.
The helpguide.org suggests that increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfying life. Being mindful makes it easier to savour the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.
Mindfulness’s practitioners are less likely to be concerned about the future or having regrets over the past by focusing on “here and now”. They are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem and can better form deep connections with others.
If greater well-being isn’t enough of an incentive, scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in several ways. Mindfulness can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep, and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
There are many different ways you can practice mindfulness meditation. There are websites with step-by-step instructions, apps you can download, or you can practice with others at your local meditation centre. You can also search for Mindfulness Meditation on YouTube. There you will find an abundance of guided meditations to follow.
But why not start right now with these simple tips:
• Stop what you’re doing and take a breath. Take a moment to notice the sensation of your breath
• Put down your phone
• Do one thing at a time
• Find mindful moments in everyday tasks
• Notice the moves you already make.
For more information, you can go to the mindfulness meditation Australian website at www.mindfulmeditationaustralia.org.au.