What Is Mindfulness? | How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation | Benefits In 2020

What Is Mindfulness? | How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation | Benefits

What is Mindfulness?

           So mindfulness is a practice that can help you cope with stress, anxiety, and depression - it’s even been found to improve sleep and to help people manage chronic medical conditions. 

          So given that mindfulness has so many amazing benefits, I wanted to share a little bit about what mindfulness is and how you can start your own mindfulness practice today. Mindfulness is a practice of intentionally bringing our full awareness to the present moment and noticing things just as they are–without judgment. 

         So, if you pay close attention to your mind, most of the time, our mind isn't actually in the present moment here and now. Even right now–you might be thinking about what the snack you’re going to eat after this blog ends...or you might be thinking about a news story that you read right before this. 

        So either the past or the future. So a perfect example of this is driving somewhere we've been many times. You may find that you are so used to making this drive that you’ve arrived at your destination as if by autopilot without remembering the specifics of your drives to get there. 

        So, the present moment though is the only time over which we have any control–we can’t change the past or do things in the future–we can only change things in the here and now. So even when our minds are in the present moment, we likely aren’t bringing full awareness to our experience. 

How to Start Mindfulness Meditation

 Mindfulness meditationLet’s start by first getting comfortable. 

  • Make sure you’re seated comfortably, whether in a chair or cushion and sitting upright. 
  • You can do this meditation laying on your back but generally, it’s best to do this meditation sitting. 
  • With your eyes open, take a few deep breaths. In through the nose and out through the mouth. 
  • On the next out-breath, gently close your eyes. Notice the points of contact.
  • Maybe it’s your feet touching the floor Your arms resting in your lap, your back against the chair. 
  • Notice the sensations. The warmth the pressure. 
  • Now, begin to shift your focus to your breath. Notice the rising and falling sensation. Maybe it’s more noticeable on your chest. Maybe it’s the tip of your nose or stomach. 
  • Remember, we’re not forcing the breath here, we’re just observing its natural state, and the rise and fall. In and out. 
  • Now, begin to count the breaths as they pass. The breath in 1, the breath out 2, and so on, until you reach a count of 10. When you reach 10, start over and begin again to count the breaths. 
  • The breath in 1, the breath out, 2 until you reach 10. Now, you will get distracted, and that’s fine. Whenever a thought or feeling enters the mind, notice it, allow it to pass, and return to the breath. 
  • Whenever you notice your mind begin to wander you can start the count over, and return to the breath. 
  • Now, whenever your mind begins to wander, it's important not to judge it because even judging it is thinking. Gently remind yourself that your mind has wandered and returned to the breath. 
  • And now slowly, return your focus to the points of contact Your legs or feet on the floor, your arms in the lap. Your back against the chair. 
  • The pressure and warmth. The physical points of contact. And now slowly, open your eyes. 

Top amazing meditations benefits 

So, how can practice such a simple exercise for 10 to 20 minutes a day improve physical and mental health? Well, here are 6 surprising benefits of mindfulness meditation

1: Mindfulness meditation is relaxing

which is the least important benefit because there are many ways to relax. 

Still, it'san an effective way to quickly let go of life's worries so you can relax and de-stress. 

2: Whenever you become aware that you've been distracted by automatic

 thinking while meditating, you will be increasing your ability to tell the difference between being in your head with thoughts and being in the present moment through your senses. 

Most people do not realize there is a difference, but becoming aware of that difference is a key skill for reducing stress since much of it comes from our own automatic thinking. 

3: Whenever you choose to escort your attention

 back to your breathing after being distracted, you will be "exercising the muscles of letting go" of thinking. 

Of course, I'm speaking metaphorically because there are no muscles in the brain, but imagine how beneficial it would be if you possessed the awareness and ability to let go of unhelpful thinking. 

Mindfulness meditation is like going to the gym to develop that ability. 

4: The regular practice of mindfulness meditation leads to insight into the true nature of your thinking mind. 

The more you practice, the more you come to see how your unhelpful, automatic thinking stresses you out, depresses you, or scares you, and this "seeing" creates distance between you and the automatic thinking, which gives you choice. 

Thus, you will be able to see the truth of your automatic thinking - that it is just what your mind does in certain situations, but it is not truth or reality - which then empowers you to let go of unhelpful, automatic thinking and, thus, respond, instead of knee-jerk react, to life's stressful situations. 

In this way you can break free from the constraints of past programming, allowing you to live more fully and effectively in the present moment. 

5: Research with f MRIs 

(an MRI that measures brain activity) has shown that mindfulness meditation actually develops the mid-prefrontal cortex, the mindful part of the brain that can observe itself. 

A more developed mid-prefrontal cortex increases your ability to recognize the unhelpful, automatic thoughts from your lower brain, so you can choose to respond from your wiser mindful brain. 

For example, imagine you were bullied in middle school and, consequently, developed a social phobia and continued avoiding people for years. 

But then you began practicing mindfulness meditation and came to see your avoidance as based on automatic thinking rooted in past pain rather than present reality. 

So, now your mindful brain understands it's safe to disregard the automatic thinking that tells you to avoid, and, thus, you begin to feel the fear and engage with people anyway, and over time, with practice, your lower brain calms down as it comes to associate safety with the stimulus of people. 

This is how the practice of mindfulness can help you re-program and update your wounded lower brain to present reality. 

6: Being mindful is not that difficult

but remember that mindfulness is an option, particularly during stressful times, which can be challenging. 

Thus, a daily mindfulness meditation practice will help you remember the option of mindfulness, and the more you practice, the more mindfulness you will bring to your life, which will reduce stress, depression, and anxiety, and, thus, improve your physical and mental health.

Mindfulness meditation is the structured practice of mindfulness, whereas mindfulness is life as a meditation. So, whenever you become aware in daily life that you've been sucked into unhelpful, automatic thinking, you can choose to return to the present moment - just as you've been practicing every day when you meditate.

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