One of the most effective tools for assisting in the process of letting go of unwanted or negative thought processes is meditation.
Meditation can be a confusing topic for people as it can be viewed as a combination of both concentration and relaxation.
Meditation is the process of focusing to still your mind. Some believe this to be like daydreaming or zoning out, but this is actually of form of "mind less ness".
Have you ever been driving and forgotten a segment of the drive? You likely went into an autopilot state without realizing it. This happens when situations are boring or repetitive and is a state I refer to as being mindless. On the other hand, being mindful is the act of focusing with intention; it is an active and intentional process.
Mindfulness cultivates a relaxed state of awareness that observes both the inner world of thoughts, feelings and sensations, and the outer world of constantly changing phenomena without trying to control anything. (Kabat-Zinn, 1990)
What can mindfulness do?
Mindfulness influences the mind (thoughts & emotions) as well as the body (nervous system activity) in a positive direction for optimal health and optimal outcomes.
There are a variety of tools and techniques for relaxing, stilling the mind and achieving a state of "letting go" and being present.
All that is required is 15 minutes a day to allow yourself to mindfully relax and release built up tensions. Many individuals find meditation most effective when guided by an instructor.
All you have to do is be open to the experience, be curious, be accepting and attempt to avoid the resistance of mind less ness thinking.
Try creating and choosing your reality rather than simply facing it.
Be your own writer, producer and director of your life story.
Mindful meditation is about intention and attention to your attitude toward an experience.
People often let random thoughts and actions create their outcomes. Take your control back by beginning to make intentional choices that will create a reality more in line with your new and improved thoughts and feelings.
Here are a few techniques that I enjoy using with clients.
- Guided Meditations
- Open-eyed meditations
- Breathing exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation (Body Scan)
- Walking in nature, yoga (Mindful Movement)
- Focusing exercises (Mindful Eating)
- Sitting and listening to soft music
- Present moment awareness and intention
Most everyone has a busy life, but scheduling in one 15 minute break each day is not a lot to ask for the amazing benefits that you will receive.
Benefits of Meditation:
- Stress reduction
- Lowered blood pressure
- Increased awareness
- Improved concentration
- Improved sleep patterns
- Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
- Decreases tension-related pain, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle/joint problems
- Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behaviour
- Improves the immune system
- Increases the energy level, as you gain an inner source of energy
Being trained in meditation and breathing techniques is not a quick fix; it is a technique that is practiced with consistency. Like learning to drive a standard car or to play a piano, it takes practice to become proficient and to engage in the activity with eventual ease. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. The more you practice, the more you realize the benefits that your mind and body receive. It is indeed a lifestyle change. The fact that you are here and reading this material indicates that you are considering that lifestyle change.
Breathing awareness is the most common focal point in meditation. Breath is used as an anchor to consistently bring attention back to the present moment. Our breath is always present and yet it is taken for granted. It is your connection to your source energy. Proper breathing techniques energize and assist with the realignment of the trillions of living cells within the body.
- "15 minutes of focused breathing lowers negative mood and decreases reactivity to stressful stimuli" (Arche & Craske, 2006)
- Deep breathing "can generate feelings of joy" (Hendricks, 1995)
- Deep breathing "can activate genes responsible for countering the stress response" (Duesk et al., 2008)