Mindfulness Meditation: A Research
Mindfulness meditation can improve both mental and physical health.
Mindfulness meditation: A research-proven way to reduce stress.
People have been meditating for thousands of years, often as part of a spiritual practice. But in more recent years, mindfulness has become a popular way to help people manage their stress and improve their overall well-being and a wealth of research shows its effective. Psychologists have found that mindfulness meditation changes our brain and biology in positive ways, improving mental and physical health.
Anyone With Any Belief System Can Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a secular practice, with no religious beliefs attached to it. When meditation became more mainstream in the early 1970s, it retained its more Buddhist influences such as chanting holy words and seeking enlightenment. However, nowadays very few mindfulness practices contain any religious guidance. Instead, they focus on universal themes such as acceptance, oneness, and kindness.
Mindfulness Practice: How To Do It
The easiest way to practice mindfulness is to focus on the breath, resting your attention on the inhalation and exhalation repeatedly.
This technique is detailed in the Siva Sutras, a 9th-century text belonging to the nondual mystical tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, believed to be written by the sage Vasugupta.
While it may be ancient in origin, this technique is just as fresh and relevant today. It can be practiced in almost any context as a way to continually bring your attention back to the present moment over and over.
Don’t Miss: Billy Joel New York State Of Mind
Give Yourself A Break
If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughtswhether with worry, fear, anxiety, or hopeobserve where your mind went, without judgment, and just return to your breathing. Don’t be hard on yourself if this happens the practice of returning to your breath and refocusing on the present is the practice of mindfulness.
Exploring The Science Behind The Practice And Its Positive Impact On Mental Health
Mindfulness meditation is a practice that has been gaining popularity in recent years as a way to reduce stress and anxiety. But what exactly is mindfulness meditation, and how does it work to alleviate these common mental health concerns?
At its core, mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that involves paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way. This can be done through various techniques, such as focusing on your breath or repeating a mantra. The goal is to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations and to observe them without getting caught up in them.
A growing body of research suggests mindfulness meditation can be an effective tool for managing stress and anxiety. One study found that just eight weeks of mindfulness meditation training led to a decrease in symptoms of anxiety and depression in participants. Another study found that regular mindfulness meditation practice was associated with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Additionally, mindfulness meditation can help to improve our ability to focus and concentrate. When we’re feeling anxious or stressed, our minds tend to wander, making it challenging to complete tasks or even enjoy our daily activities. Mindfulness meditation can help to train our minds to stay focused on the present moment, which can help manage the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Don’t Miss: Free Mental Health Services Brooklyn
Tips To Practice Mindfulness In Daily Life
As you practice mindfulness meditation, it helps to find ways to bring mindfulness into your everyday lifeespecially on those days when life is too busy to carve out a minute alone. Mindfulness meditation is one technique, but everyday activities and tasks provide plenty of opportunities for mindfulness practice.
- Brushing your teeth: Feel your feet on the floor, the brush in your hand, and your arm moving up and down.
- Doing dishes: Savor the feeling of the warm water on your hands, the look of the bubbles, and the sounds of the pans clunking on the bottom of the sink.
- Doing laundry: Pay attention to the smell of the clean clothes and the feel of the fabric. Add a focus element and count your breaths as you fold laundry.
- Driving: Turn off the radioor put on something soothing, like classical music. Imagine your spine growing tall, find the half-way point between relaxing your hands and gripping the wheel too tightly. Whenever you notice your mind wandering, bring your attention back to where you and your car are in space.
- Exercising: Instead of watching television while on the treadmill, try focusing on your breathing and where your feet are as you move.
- Getting kids ready for bed: Get down to the same level as your kids, look in their eyes, listen more than you talk, and savor any snuggles. When you relax, they will too.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a mental training practice that teaches you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity, and calm both your mind and body. It combines meditation with the practice of mindfulness, which can be defined as a mental state that involves being fully focused on “the now” so you can acknowledge and accept your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment.
Techniques can vary, but in general, mindfulness meditation involves deep breathing and awareness of body and mind. Practicing mindfulness meditation doesn’t require props or preparation . To get started, all you need is a comfortable place to sit, three to five minutes of free time, and a judgment-free mindset.
Don’t Miss: White Matter Lesions In Brain
Mindfulness In The Classroom
Samii’s journey to mindfulness education started when she heard statistics about teenagers’ delay in certain activities. Through teaching social media, she observed how students are always connected with text messages, Facebook notifications and social media engagement. She determined the counter to this issue is having the ability to realize the problem in that present moment, put down the distractions and focus on the tasks at hand to reduce the amount of stress students are under.
Samii was trained through the Koru Institute, which focuses on teaching college-aged students mindfulness, and attended the Google Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute that trains mindful leadership and emotional intelligence tools. She devotes a portion of her teachings to mindfulness education and meditation to help students make wiser decisions, regulate emotions and be more fully engaged in life.
In 2019, a 2-day Business of Mindfulness conference was held on the SNHU campus. Samii and a team of 20 set out to share the importance of teaching mindfulness in business into one learning environment for SNHU faculty and staff.
“The goal of the conference was for everyone to learn tools for work/life balance, stress reduction, collaboration, and implementation to bring more happiness into their lives to better help their students,” Samii said.
Joanne Coffey ’19 ’20G is a marketer with a passion for mindfulness. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from SNHU. Connect with her on .
Mindfulness Misconceptions & Mistakes To Avoid
As you start practicing mindfulness, youll likely feel discomfort and become restless fairly quickly. Know that this is perfectly normal.
Your mind is simply not used to so few incoming stimulus and will protest by sending you these signals. When you feel this slight discomfort, stay in control and refuse to immediately give in to the temptation to quit.
A lot of people have the misconception that meditation is about emptying your mind completely and get increasingly annoyed each time a thought steals their attention. This is not true.
In fact, sucking at meditation is actually good for your self-control and willpower. The more you lose focus, the more you practice your willpower each time you bring it back.
If youre just starting out, youll likely feel awkward and that youre probably doing it wrong. Thats all right.
You wont be a great meditator right out of the gate so dont expect to be. Just know that any mindfulness practice is way better than none at all and that you will get better with time so have fun with it
Now, lets get to it shall we? The practice of mindfulness is going to be divided into meditation practice and everyday exercises.
Don’t Miss: Best Ehr For Small Mental Health Practice
Be Present And Aware Of Your Surroundings
You can continue focusing on your breath as described above, or you can, after a few moments of breathing mindfully, start focusing on whats around you.
Notice whats around you in terms of colours, shapes, textures, and sounds. Try to be aware of your surroundings as much as you can.
Notice the small things that go unnoticed by many people such as the smell of the air, sounds of peoples voices, or colours of the walls, floors, and other objects around you.
How To Be Even Better At Mindfulness:
We tend to think as mindfulness as a solution: something were working toward, something we can achieve and master. Mindfulness is not a destination, says Ongaro, but more of a lifelong practice, a different way of approaching the way you live. In our stressful, jam-packed lives, intentional living so much easier said than done, and in some ways, its a privilege to find the space and time for it its much more difficult to be mindful if youre juggling a few jobs and struggling to pay rent, for example.
Still, understanding that mindfulness is an approach, not a solution, is perhaps the first step in fully incorporating it into your life. It helps to think of mindfulness as strengthening a muscle, an ongoing habit. The more you practice, the easier it gets, and the better and more quickly the brain responds. Edlynn says. Its like building a new muscle at the gym you cant weight lift for one week and expect a bigger bicep.
Redesigning your environment can work, too. Ongaro has suggested creating some sort of friction that slows you down, forcing you to think about the task at hand. For example, lets say you want to be more mindful with your money and stop mindlessly adding stuff to your Amazon cart. An easy way to create friction would be to unlink your credit card to Amazon, which makes it a little more difficult to buy stuff and forces you to think twice about your purchase.
Also Check: Brain Surgery After Stroke Survival Rate
Reasons To Start Practicing Mindfulness Today
At this point, you might think that mindfulness sounds like it requires a lot of effort.
Beginning a mindfulness habit is work, and it will be difficult in the beginning, but this habit will become easier over time and with more practice.
Additionally, mindfulness has numerous positive benefits . The benefits of mindfulness are emotional, cognitive, interpersonal, professional, and practical.
The Challenges Of Practicing Mindfulness Meditation And How To Overcome Them
The practice of mindfulness meditation can be both rewarding and challenging. One of the challenges is that it can be difficult to find the time to meditate. Life is often full of distractions, and it can be hard to set aside even a few minutes for mindfulness. Another challenge is that it can be difficult to maintain focus during meditation.
The mind often wanders, and it can be easy to get caught up in thoughts and feelings. However, there are ways to overcome these challenges. One way to find the time for meditation is to schedule it into your day and make it a priority. It can also be helpful to start with shorter sessions and to increase the length of time you meditate gradually.
Finally, it is important to be patient with yourself and to understand that it takes time and practice to develop deeper levels of mindfulness. By understanding and overcoming these challenges, you can reap the many benefits of mindfulness meditation.
Recommended Reading: Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
Fleming & Kocovskis Treatment Plan
One such group mindfulness-based treatment program by Fleming & Kocovski aimed to reduce social anxiety. It is a good example of how mindfulness exercises can be incorporated into a group setting for its various benefits.
In this example, the exercises used have proven effective for treating social anxiety disorder in particular however, they can be applied to many other group settings with positive results.
The treatment plan involves groups of about 8 members meeting for 2 hours, every week for 12 weeks. The first portion of each session is devoted to a short mindfulness exercise and discussion.
The treatment planâs mindfulness exercises went as follows:
- Session 1: Raisin Exercise
- Session 8: Acceptance of Social Anxiety
- Session 9: Breath Focus without Guidance
- Session 10: Lake Meditation
- Session 11: Non guided Breath Focus.
There are many different mindfulness exercises mentioned here which were specifically put together for the aim of reducing social anxiety disorder however, the first three exercises are commonly used in group sessions to encourage mindfulness.
A description of each of these group exercises can be found below.
The Three Keys To Mindfulness
While there are many different methods for developing mindfulness, there are three key characteristics that mindfulness techniques have in common:
- Intention: You are seeking awareness. If your mind wanders, and it likely will, you will return to your intention.
- Attention: You are giving your full attention to the present and your thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
- Attitude: You are open and accepting, not judging.
With those foundational keys in place, you can begin your mindfulness practice.
You May Like: Joyce Meyer: Battlefield Of The Mind
The Effects Of Meditation On Therapists And Therapist Trainees
While many studies have been conducted on the benefits of applying mindfulness approaches to psychotherapy clients , research on the effects of mindfulness on psychotherapists is just beginning to emerge. Specifically, research has identified these benefits for psychotherapists who practice mindfulness meditation:
Empathy. Several studies suggest that mindfulness promotes empathy. One study, for example, looked at premedical and medical students who participated in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction training. It found that the mindfulness group had significantly higher self-reported empathy than a control group . In 2006, a qualitative study of therapists who were experienced meditators found that they believed that mindfulness meditation helped develop empathy toward clients . Along similar lines, Wang found that therapists who were experienced mindfulness meditators scored higher on measures of self-reported empathy than therapists who did not meditate.
Better quality of life. Using qualitative and quantitative measures, nursing students reported better quality of life and a significant decrease in negative psychological symptoms following exposure to mindfulness-based stress reduction training . Evidence from a study of counselor trainees exposed to interpersonal mindfulness training suggests that such interventions can foster emotional intelligence and social connectedness, and reduce stress and anxiety .
Mindfulness Techniques For Depression
Mindfulness is used in the treatment of depression to reduce symptoms and lowers the risk of debilitating relapse. One study with 11 individuals suffering from depression concluded that there are three keys for making mindfulness effective in the treatment of depression :
Weâve described practices focused on breathing and muscle relaxation already .
If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness techniques for treating depression, you can look into Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.
Alternatively, watch this inspiring TEDtalk by Zindel Segal who explains the mindful approach needed to not only address depression but also manage recovery and reduce the risk of relapse.
At one point, Segal asks the audience to think about their feet, and later, to experience the sensation of their feet. The difference is profound and offers a gateway to accessible mindfulness and meditation.
Read Also: Is Fish Oil Good For The Brain
Observe Your Thoughts For 15 Minutes
This exercise is a staple of mindfulness, designed to simply enhance your awareness of your own thoughts.
To begin, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and try to let all tension in your body dissipate. Focus on your breathing first, then move your awareness to what it feels like to be in your body, and finally move on to your thoughts.
Be aware of what comes into your head, but resist the urge to label or judge these thoughts. Think of them as a passing cloud in the sky of your mind.
If your mind wanders to chase a thought, acknowledge whatever it was that took your attention and gently guide your attention back to your thoughts.
The Benefits Of Meditation And Mindfulness For Stress Reduction
Meditation and mindfulness are two powerful tools for reducing stress in our lives. While the term meditation may bring to mind images of yogis sitting in the lotus position for hours on end, the reality is that it is an incredibly simple practice that can be used to achieve a number of goals, including stress reduction. Mindfulness, on the other hand, is the practice of being aware of the present moment and can be applied to any situation.
The physical benefits of meditation and mindfulness are well-known. Regular practice of both can reduce tension in the body, decrease the production of stress hormones, and improve overall mood. Meditation can also improve circulation, reduce fatigue, and even reduce blood pressure. Mindfulness can help to calm the body and mind in times of stress or anxiety, allowing one to become more aware of the present moment and its sensations.
The mental benefits of meditation and mindfulness are equally as impressive. Research has shown that regular practice of both can increase focus and concentration, improve working memory, and reduce rumination and worry. Meditation can also increase self-awareness, promote acceptance of thoughts and feelings, and allow one to gain insight into ones own behavior and thought patterns. Mindfulness can help cultivate a sense of calm and well-being, even in the midst of difficult emotions.
Also Check: Mental Health Self Care Gift Basket