“To meditate is to discover new possibilities, to awaken the capacity that each of us has to live more wisely, more lovingly, more compassionately, and more fully.” – Jack Kornfield, Meditation for Beginners
Mindfulness and meditation have gotten a lot of press lately. They are teaching it in healthcare settings and therapists’ offices. Athletes swear by it, soldiers are finding it improves their resilience, and it helps school kids focus and learn. You may have heard that meditation is a great way to create more balance or maybe that you know someone who is convinced that it has helped them cope with stress or overcome anxiety.
So, is it for you?
You might be thinking that it all sounds really good but “it seems like a lot of work” and you may be asking “is it really worth it? Or the thought might cross your mind that ”it’s okay for all those other people but it probably won’t work for me.”
Here are some reasons you might want to give it a try, read the sentences below and then ask yourself, “Do any of these apply to me?”
- You often struggle to focus on a specific task
- You feel rushed or pressured to accomplish everything you have to do
- You regularly worry about what comes next before you finish the task at hand
- You feel like you’re truly not getting all you could out of life
- You feel anxious and jittery frequently
What is mindfulness?
So, what is mindfulness anyway? In many people’s minds, it is associated with sitting still on the floor with your eyes closed and following your breath or repeating a word or phrase over and over. Those are forms of meditation that can be practiced, but there is much more to it than that.
At its core, mindfulness is an awareness of life — paying curious and compassionate attention to what is happening in the present moment.
Our working definition for mindfulness comes to us from Jon Kabat Zinn, founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, “Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment.”
- Being fully aware and accepting of your surroundings, and of your place within them.
- Learning to sit with thoughts and feelings without getting lost in them
- Reveling in the beauty of a sunset
- Meeting sadness and despair with acceptance
Practicing mindfulness can reshape how you view your experiences, especially the stressful ones. It allows you to pause, notice your thoughts and feelings, and manage your response to crises great and small. And what you may notice the situations become easier to deal with, and produce less stress.
Many people find mindfulness particularly helpful when they are going through demanding life events. It won’t get rid of the difficulties themselves, but it can make you more confident that you can deal with them.
And, the cool thing about mindfulness is that you can do it anytime and anywhere. You can do it sitting, standing, walking, or when you are in conversation with someone you care about. You can do it to savor the beauty of life and to learn from its challenges.
Still Not Convinced?
You might be wondering if meditation really lives up to all the hype. You’re definitely not alone. Lots of scientists have wondered the same thing, which is why there are countless studies examining the benefits of meditation. Here’s what science has to say about the benefits of meditation:
- Promotes better physical health: Many studies have found that meditation benefits our physical health. A meta-analysis of 12 studies consisting of almost 1,000 participants found that regular meditation helped reduce blood pressure. This was especially true for participants who were older or previously had high blood pressure. Meditation also reduces the body’s inflammation response, reduces the symptoms of stress-related disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, and helps people sleep better, including those with chronic insomnia.
- Helps reduce pain: Meditation has also been shown to reduce the sensation of pain in people with chronic conditions like osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. A meta-analysis of 38 studies found that mindfulness meditation, in particular, improves the quality of life in people who live with chronic pain.
- Improves mental and cognitive functioning: Other studies show that people who regularly practice meditation have longer attention spans and are able to focus better than those who don’t, even for people who only meditated for 10 minutes at a time. Another study found that people who meditated 13 minutes a day for 8 weeks showed improvements in attention and memory.
Boosts psychological well-being: Meditation also appears to benefit our psychological well-being, especially when it comes to stress, anxiety, and depression. One meta-analysis found that meditation is linked with reduced levels of anxiety, especially for people with higher levels of anxiety. And a study of over 3,500 adults found that meditation helped improve symptoms of depression.
These studies and more can be found at Healthline.com.
So, take some time to consider if embarking on a mindfulness journey might be beneficial to you. We would love to have you join us in one of our upcoming classes.