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7 Benefits of Mindful Meditation

7 Benefits of Mindful Meditation

As a natural healer of the mind, body, and soul, mindful meditation is an important tool that can have a transformative effect on our lives. Along with practising mindfulness in any and every aspect of our lives, finding as little as 10 minutes a day to practise some form of structured mindful meditation in a regular routine can reap a slew of physiological rewards.

Mindful meditation is a form of meditation popularised by Jon Kabat-Zinn, whose practice of yoga and studies with Buddhist teachers informed his mission to bring learnings about meditation beyond the realm of specific religions to a wider audience, by underscoring these ancient meditation practices with contemporary scientific findings.

Mindfulness is a state of mind. It involves a deliberate focus on your present surroundings with acute awareness, letting go of distractions or stressors that cause us to lose your self-awareness. Instead, this practice encourages paying closer attention to your current physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state.

Some common, structured mindful meditations include body scan meditation, in which you lie still and slowly focus on the feelings and sensations associated with each part of your body, as well as sitting or walking meditations. All of these methods involve thoughtful control of your breathing, and many online mindfulness resources, such as Headspace, Smiling Mind, Stop Breathe and Think, as well as Calm and Insight Timer, provide guided audio instructions to help you monitor your breath effectively. 

Detaching from negative thoughts.

Meditation helps you detach yourself from worrying about the past and present, instead focusing on your current placement. If you often find it difficult to let go of stress, meditating offers an alleviation of these emotions. Over time, this repeated practice will help you manage these feelings even outside of meditative sessions. You will eventually be able to reduce them substantially, providing you with a mindset and lifestyle that is happier and healthier. 

In this sense, regular meditation can contextualise thoughts and feelings so that they are experienced more like, for example, a stream of water flowing by, rather than something is part of us, that we can get caught up in or overwhelmed by. 

Improving concentration.

Often the best way to concentrate on a project is to step away from it. Stepping away from a task to relax your body and mind will provide you with newfound clarity, allowing solutions or inspirations that were previously hidden to come to light. In addition, the act of clearing your head has shown to improve memory with extended practice, making your tasks even easier to complete. Use meditation sessions as an intermediate break to refresh your focus and concentration, helping you achieve your goals more quickly and efficiently.

Increasing lung capacity.

A significant aspect of meditation is mindful breathing—concentrating on where and how oxygen flows throughout your body. Through this training of our respiratory systems, our lung capacity can gradually expand, which benefits our everyday lives significantly. Following guided breathing tutorials, which manage your inhalation and exhalation, will encourage the expansion of your lungs over time—subsequently inviting more oxygen to enter your brain and other muscles. Pay attention to the sensation of air travelling between your lungs and your body—this will also help you concentrate on the meditation more closely.

Relieving stress symptoms.

Meditation can ease the symptoms of stress present within our bodies. These include low digestion and limited blood flow and are caused by our’ fight or flight’ instinct. Once our bodies feel they are in a peaceful, stress-free space, as encouraged by meditation, these systems re-activate and begin to function more effectively. With the tension caused by everyday life, we often develop these responses on a physiological level without realising, so meditation can help relieve these manifestations.

Refocusing on self-awareness.

With the business of our lifestyles, we often neglect inner reflection and spatial consciousness, focusing more on the outside world, so meditation brings us back into the here and now.Many guides will encourage you to notice the sensory information around you, such as scents and sounds. The lack of exterior stimulation will also make the bodily sensations you’re experiencing much more apparent.  

Enhancing your sleep.

Many people find themselves unable to fall asleep due to a ‘racing mind’- revisiting the events of the day, anticipating future obligations, and experiencing anxiety. Meditating during the day can take this pressure off your night-time routine, allowing you to feel more rested and rejuvenated. Furthermore, mindfully experiencing and addressing these concerns through your meditation training alleviates the build-up of distracting thoughts and emotions that often get in the way of satisfying sleep.

Finding creativity.

When your creativity feels as if it has depleted, meditating can often invite new ideas to strike. Although meditative practice discourages focusing on thoughts such as planning or problem-solving, clearing your brain of external distractions can often, indirectly, create the ideal environment for your imagination to run free. So rather than taking a break with the goal of spurring inspiration, try to be as mindful and relaxed as possible as it is the best frame of mind to be in for sudden bursts of creativity!

If you’re looking to slow things down in your mind, become more self aware and more thoroughly engage with the world around you, consider finding the time each day to meditate. Over time, the techniques and exercises involved will become second nature, and you will be able to more quickly and effectively achieve a state of mindfulness.  Many different approaches and methods exist, so the perfect technique for every beginner is out there. While some users prefer a structured and guided activity, others prefer to incorporate it into their lifestyle with more incidental techniques such as taking a small moment to re-align their breathing, or pausing to observe all of the sensory information in their current environment. All share the benefits of being brief in length with noticeable results for our mind, body, and spirit.

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