Understanding Mindfulness Based Meditation

the relaxation response

What is mindfulness based meditation?

Mindful meditation, or the practice of mindfulness, is a meditation technique used to manage distracting thoughts and feelings by concentrating on the details and sensations of the moment.

This steady awareness is what is referred to as mindfulness.

Mindfulness derives from a Pali term “sati”, part of Buddhist practice. Jon Kabat-Zinn brought it into the mainstream in the 1970s as a form of stress-reduction. According to studies published in the British Journal of Health Psychology large surveys indicate that mindfulness has strong correlation to well-being and perceived health.

Mindfulness is also connected to a conscious promotion of wellbeing according to the American Psychological Association.

Overview of Mindfulness Studies From the APA

Mindfulness based meditation originated with the Brahmans who used it to memorize Vedic scriptures,which were very large chunks of text. The Buddha adopted the techniques for similar purposes and then expanded the techniques in use with meditation for peace of mind. Several forms of Asian religion migrated to the Western world during the 18th Century.

Modern interpretation of Hinduism and Buddhism became popular in western culture. This popularity was the result of the Theosophical Society in the 19th Century. Different forms of meditation have been practiced over millennium. The main purpose has always been to end suffering.

Today's form arises mainly from the work of Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts.

What's the purpose?

Today the practice of mindful meditation has been centered upon a way to handle emotions. Meditation is linked to a balanced healthy mental state. This balance has become important in the treatment of stress reduction, depression, drug addiction and other mental and physical conditions.

Meditation techniques have been advocated in the reduction of stress. This is achieved by lowering the heart rate creating reduced anxiety by encouraging positive attitudes and steady thinking patterns.

Learn More About Mindfulness Based Stress Redcution

So what would mindfulness based meditation do for me?

Some benefits of this form of meditation are:

  • Increased short and long term memory
  • Enhanced mental clarity
  • Increased ability to learn new things
  • Sharper problem-solving
  • Increased focus and concentration
  • Heightened awareness
  • Feelings of joy and gratitude

The main goal is to release yourself of negative energy and create the ability to focus on the current moment-to-moment portion of living. The benefits will follow.

Here are some mindfulness based meditation techniques

There are various meditation techniques that work. Most depend on your environment and what you are comfortable with. Here are a few to consider:

Breathing – focus on the process and the repetition. The awareness of each breath leads to better breathing as well as physical and emotional relaxation.

Sounds – focus on the sounds around you. Incorporating environmental sounds helps to focus on something other than what's troubling you. An example would be the sound of rain fall, the wind blowing or even the vibrations of pure silence.

Sensations – physical sensations of, and around, your body can also help pull your mind back into the grouding energy of the body. Examples include focusing on specific feelings or your hands, feet, chest, and becoming aware of the life energy flowing through the entire body.

Taste – focus on the food, the texture and the flavor. This technique works well with dieting as you are concentrating more on the food than the effect of the food.

Thoughts – focus on simply observing the thoughts that enter your mind instead of trying to eliminate them. This creates the ability to release the thoughts that trouble you. Also, try bringing attention to the thoughts by labeling them.

This provides an oppertunity to process negative thoughts in a healthy way before setting them free. Examples include fear, worry, anxiety, stress or resentment.

By practicing mindfulness, we are consistently bringing our conscious attention back in line with the sensations of the moment. This activity teaches us to recognize and come to terms with our feelings, instead of opposing or escaping them.  We become much more able to experience a mental clarity that can be very useful in all aspects of life.

The practice of mindfulness has also been shown to strengthen the prefrontal cortex. In meditation, this part of the brain is constantly being activated in order to realign our focused attention. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision making, behaviour, creativity, and will power. 

 

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