- Mindfulness is about cultivating self-awareness
What is meditation? Most people think of it as deep relaxation that provides stress relief, or even spiritual awakening.
Mindfulness meditation is very different. It’s a mental exercise designed to equip you with flexibility of mind—that is, the ability to bring yourself back to the present and be acutely aware of your senses. However, as a common ‘side-effect’, practicing mindfulness can lead to relaxation.
- Mindfulness incorporates two key character strengths
Research into mindfulness has accelerated in recent times. The corporate sector has embraced the positive impacts of mindfulness, with many businesses introducing meditation classes for their workers.
To better understand how this practice can be cultivated, some of the world’s leading mindfulness scientists came together to define the two key elements of what mindfulness entails: 1) the self-regulation of one’s attentions, along with 2) an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.
- The mind influences the body, the body influences the mind
The mind-body connection demonstrates the efficacy of mindfulness. The adult brain remains open to change throughout a person’s lifespan, meaning that we always have the ability to change our brains for the better.
Practicing mindfulness can:
- Change brain structure and improve our ability to focus
- Promote creative thinking
- Lead to increases in regional brain grey matter density, responsible for learning and memory processes, emotional regulation, self-referential processing and critical thinking
- Increase our resiliency to stress and boost our immune response
- Strengthen self-compassion, fostering emotional growth and capability to deal with life’s challenges
- Meditation and other programs act as a ‘launching pad’
Many people come along to meditation and mindfulness-based programs expecting instant results—but this is rarely the case. Achieving mindfulness is an ongoing learning and assessment process. Like going to the gym, the brain is a muscle that needs to be constantly ‘worked’ in order to achieve results.
Don’t be disheartened! Mindfulness meditation is a perfect place to learn the skills you need to achieve greater self-awareness, mental strength, and a balanced state of health and wellbeing.
- Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere
You don’t have to attend a class or be ‘somewhere quiet’ in order to be mindful or practice mindfulness. You can get some quick breathing space at any point in the day (or night) when you feel you need to re-group and recharge yourself.
You don’t need to change who you are, what you do or how you live – mindfulness can be practiced by anyone, anywhere!
Bonus fact! You are human
No one who practices mindfulness is perfect, and our minds will wander from time to time.
The good news? Every time you notice your mind has wandered and you bring it back to the present moment, you are actually practicing and cultivating your mindfulness. So…keep practicing!