What is Meditation / Mindfulness?
Meditation means awareness. Whatever you do with awareness is meditation. “Watching your breath” is meditation; listening to the birds is meditation. As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation.
Meditation is not a technique but a way of life. Meditation means ‘a cessation (suspension) of the thought process’ . It describes a state of consciousness, when the mind is free of scattered thoughts and various patterns . The observer (one who is doing meditation) realizes that all the activity of the mind is reduced to one.
Meditation can be an effective for stress reduction and has the potential to improve quality of life and decrease health costs.
Meditation is effortless and leads to a state of ‘thoughtful awareness’ in which the excessive stress producing activity of the mind is neutralised without reducing alertness and effectiveness.
History of Meditation / Mindfulness?
Meditation comes from the latin root “meditatum”, which means “to ponder”. The first time the term “meditato” was used to refer to a step-by-step process goes back to the 12th century monk Guigo II. Truthfully, no one knows exactly when the history of meditation started except that it must have been a happy accident.
Mindfulness techniques stem from the Buddhist practice of meditation, originating about 2500 years ago. Mindfulness meditation was used widely for spiritual and intellectual development, to strengthen concentration, unlock human potential, and reach a state of inner peace.
In modern times these practices have been investigated scientifically for their medical and psychological benefits. There is a great deal of evidence from large samples of the population indicating that mindfulness techniques and meditation (and yoga, which involves both movement and meditation) successfully reduce many psychological symptoms and improve some physical health indicators too.
How can Meditation / Mindfulness help you?
Many of us lead fast-paced lives balancing multiple responsibilities. Study, work, relationships, sport, shopping, the maze of gadgets we use, and family priorities can split our attention and force us into a confusing and challenging mental juggling act. This limits our ability to attend to what is really important and to enjoy our here and now. We often generate counterproductive thought and emotional patterns as a result of our modern lifestyle, leading to withdrawal from the people we love and things we enjoy (hence why success and money do not equate to happiness).
Mindfulness techniques can help us to overcome psychological challenges to reaching our goals and living a fulfilling life. The aim of mindfulness training is not to block, change, or replace any ‘negative’ thoughts or feelings we may have as a result of everyday life. Mindfulness does nonetheless lead to increased happiness, mental calm and satisfaction.
Mindfulness helps us to develop the perspective that memories, thoughts, or feelings are not harmful directly and do not always accurately represent reality.
Meditation benefits include: