A happy mind leads to a happy and healthy life. This isn’t a slogan for a new memory-boosting drink or for a brain health diet. It’s the truth said plainly about how being mindful can make a healthy body and brain. All right, I know you’ve probably heard about mindfulness a gazillion times from yoga gurus, personal help coaches, fitness trainers and meditation masters.
Mindfulness is the talk of the town and is publicised everywhere! But as opposed to its main principles of staying aware of the present and being connected to
it physically, mentally and emotionally, we often find our minds all over the place, wandering away and not being able to focus on the task on hand. We’re not able to stay IN THE MOMENT. It’s a common problem amongst modern people. We find it hard to clear our minds and focus on one single thing.
Scenario: You’re watching TV while talking on the phone and occasionally looking at your child crawling and playing on the floor. With our over-occupied brains, we tend to practice mindlessness instead of mindfulness on a daily basis.
Mindfulness means focussing the mind on the experience – as it unfolds and paying attention to that specific experience and what it does to us in thoughts, emotions or sensations happening in the NOW.
“Mindfulness is paying close attention to what you’re experiencing and shutting away chatters, working your mind just enough to silence it.”
So putting that into context...
Mindfulness is holding your attention on purpose with a deliberate and conscious direction.
“On purpose” also refers to doing something consciously – in a more alive manner by being fully aware of it. And your attention is immersed in that present moment... The ‘now.’ Here’s the thing. Our mind naturally (and habitually) wanders away from the present, keeping on replaying the past and thinking about the future. But by being mindful, you’re completely engaging your attention and yourself in the present moment. In this manner, you are letting go of the tension of wanting to do more but accepting the here and now. And with mindfulness, you accept the present without judgment. That means to say focussing your experience as it’s happening without judging it in any way. It means accepting your thoughts or feelings without disagreeing or believing. It also means that you’re not judging how you’re feeling or thinking to be right or wrong in a particular moment.
How to Practise Mindful Meditation
In the following, let’s discuss certain things you can do to incorporate and practise meditation in your daily life.
Focus on your breath.
Focus on the air sensation moving in and out the body while you are breathing. Then, change focus on the rising and falling of your belly as well as on the air going into your nostrils and leaving your mouth. How does each breath differ? Focus and take note of that.
Look for a comfortable and quiet place to practise.
You can sit on the floor or in a chair while keeping your head, neck and back straight. Make sure your posture is not stiff.
Stay in the present.
Whatever is bothering you, whether thoughts of the past or worries about the future, let go of them. If you’re noticing that your mind is wandering away and being carried away, you should observe where your mind went off and then slowly go back to your breathing.
Take note of each thought.
Is it fear, worry, hope or anxiety? If any of these thoughts are going into your mind, acknowledge instead of suppressing them. Find your breath and keep calm.
The Importance of Mindfulness
Our daily life provides many opportunities to practise mindfulness as mentioned in the last section. Now, why should you learn how to stay in the present? See the following for the whole host of benefits of mindfulness.
Emotional and mental health
Recently, psychotherapists have been combining mindfulness meditation with treatments for substance abuse, depression, anxiety and eating disorders. In terms of emotional health, mindfulness aids in reducing loneliness and lifting one’s mood. Practise it daily and you’ll learn how to shut down negative thoughts.
For mental health, learning how to focus and pay attention to the moment can also increase the grey matter in the brain, especially in the regions involved in learning and memory processes, self-referential processing, taking perspective and emotion regulation.
Mindfulness can improve physical health because it can lower blood pressure, alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties, reduce chronic pain and relieve stress. For example, mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy combining yoga and mindfulness meditation can help in improving pain, wellbeing and anxiety. It can also enhance the ability to participate in daily activities.
Better sleep is another benefit of mindfulness. If you’re suffering from the physical and mental effects of poor sleep, you can consider mindfulness techniques like deep breathing exercises before bed. It turns out that mindfulness also helps people with eating disorders by working to lose weight. With it, you won’t have to struggle with weight fluctuations and diets. Try mindfulness to support your efforts to maintain healthy weight.
Mindfulness can improve your senses of contentment. By enhancing it, you can find it easier to enjoy every moment of life as it happens. With it, you’ll become more engaged in activities and have a higher capacity to deal with stressful situations. By practising mindfulness, you’re less likely to be stuck in worries or regrets about past decisions.
Another reason to try meditation is because it lowers stress levels. Meditation minimises the control of stress hormones in your body and mind. That’s not all! - It also reduce cortisol levels which boost immunity and digestion.
While it’s not easy to learn how to stay in the present, it’s doable!
At the end of the day, mindfulness is paying attention to the moment on purpose and without judgment. It is accepting whatever will arise at every moment and being forgiving towards oneself. Learn how to
cultivate mindfulness and reap its many rewards for mental health, physical health and wellbeing today!
Mindfulness is a way of life. Learn how to infuse presence, intention and awareness into everything you do by practising it.