What is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness is having an awareness of being consciously conscious, intentional in thought, present in the moment and the ability to observe our current state of being.

Firstly, let me give you an example of being mindless! Making scrambled eggs the other day, I cracked open the eggs, threw the yolk in the food recycling and put the shells in the pan. I then repeated the same action, my mind clearly not on the task in hand. Have you ever left home, realised you had forgotten something, gone back and completely forgotten what you came back in for? Good, it’s not just me then!

It’s hard to be mindful when we all have thousands of thoughts going on in our brain which separate us from the present moment, not helped by living in a world of constant disruptions and bombardment of information.

Yogis have been using mindfulness meditation for 1000s of years, since yoga was predominately centered around breathing, stillness and mindful practice. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s and thanks to Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) that we have been able to observe the mechanistic changes to the brain, seeing areas of the brain light up with mindfulness meditation and all the positive effects.

It’s no wonder that mindfulness has proven so popular to help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression, help with ADHD, improve focus and concentration and motivation, reduce blood pressure and even support prevention of diabetes.

Mindfulness meditation can literally change our physiology and our body chemistry by triggering hormones like cortisol for focus and attention, dopamine for motivation and serotonin for a more peaceful and relaxed state. In addition, the practice can activate the pineal gland that triggers melatonin which aids sleep and is a powerful antioxidant supporting the immune system. Taking a short regular break from the day to be mindful for just a few minutes is a great way of resetting our system.

In our modern world, most of us are in a constant state of stress so it is very important to use mindfulness to help us stay in the present and stop worrying constantly about what has been or what’s to come. Our minds are our most powerful tool and we can learn to calm them by using mindful meditation techniques.

There are a number of different types of meditation where various forms of focus and distraction are used to take the mind away from thought. A good place to start is with our breath.

Breathing is of course an essential form of living (see my resource on the power of breath) – generally, our inhales tend to promote our sympathetic (our ‘fight or flight’ system) and our exhales tend to promote our parasympathetic (rest and digest) system. Focusing on our breathing really helps, not only as a focus and distraction from thoughts, but also as a way of creating equal cyclical breathing patterns which regulates a more harmonious heart rate and state of being.

In my next Insight, I will give you some simple breathing techniques to start you on your mindfulness meditation path. In the meantime, please watch the video and download the full pdf resource here, where you will find links to some insightful books and podcasts on the subject as well as some great apps that may help you on your journey to a calmer mind.

Like this? Please share it