What is Mindfulness? Meditation and Exercises to Enhance Mindfulness

Points to Keep in Mind:

  • Working on developing mindfulness perks up both physical and mental health.
  • Acceptance and concentration are involved in mindfulness. Pay attention to sensations and thoughts without making any judgments.
  • It takes time to practice being mindful or any other techniques. If one method does not seem to work, try adopting something else.

What is Mindfulness?

The world has become quite busy. You have to fold the laundry by keeping one eye on the children and other on the television to note down the news affairs. You plan your entire day while listening to the music and while going to work. In the rush to fulfill all the necessary tasks you may tend to lose the control with the present moment, miss out on important things and know how you are feeling. Did you notice about how you felt while leaving for work this morning or the flowers are blooming on your work route?

What is Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves practicing to focus purposely with all your attention on the present instance and not being judgmental about anything. Mindfulness is currently being scientifically examined and it has been found to be a priority in being happy.

Mindfulness was cultivated considering the roots of Buddhism but some religions have some prayer or techniques of meditation which helps in shifting the thoughts away from your daily preoccupations. By practicing it, you will be able to appreciate the moment and live larger than life.

Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn who runs the clinic of stress reduction which is situated at the Medical Center of Massachusetts University assisted in bringing the practice of meditating mindfully in the field of medicine. He also demonstrated about practicing mindfulness and how it can bring enhancement of both psychological and physical symptoms. It also has an impact on health behaviors and attitudes by bringing positive changes.

What are the Advantages of Practicing Mindfulness?

What are the Advantages of Practicing Mindfulness?

Mindfulness Promotes Well Being:

The following are the major benefits of practicing mindfulness on individual’s well being:

  • Boosting your mind for practicing mindfulness can support many attitudes and contribute in leading a complete life.
  • When you are mindful, it will be easier for you to relish all the pleasures in life as they come into existence. It also helps you in being engaged in all the activities that you perform and also grants an enhanced capacity to deal with unfavorable events.
  • By concentrating on the present moment, most people who practice being mindful finds that they are less caught up in the worries about their future and regret over the instances that happened in the past. They are also less anxious about their success and self-confidence and are able to maintain better connection with others.

Mindfulness Promotes Physical Health:

If having a greater well-being does not grant you enough encouragement on practicing mindfulness, scientists have discovered some associated benefits of all such techniques that help in improving the health in numerous ways. The following are the major benefits of practicing mindfulness on individual’s physical health:

  • Aid in relieving stress
  • Treat heart ailments
  • Lower blood pressure (B.P)
  • Lessen chronic pain
  • Perk up sleep
  • Ease gastrointestinal troubles.

Mindfulness Promotes Mental Health:

In present times, psychotherapists have tried adopting mindfulness meditation as a vital element in treating various problems. The following are the major benefits of practicing mindfulness on individual’s mental health:

  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Couples’ conflicts
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Some experts are of a belief that mindfulness works as an element in helping people to accept their painful experiences rather than reacting to them in avoidance and aversion.

Combining mindfulness meditation with psychotherapy particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has become a common practice. This development makes sense as both cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation share a common goal to help people in gaining an outlook on maladaptive, irrational and self-defeating beliefs.

Mindfulness Practicing Techniques

Mindfulness can be practiced in more than one ways but the common goal of all the techniques is to gain focus, alertness and relaxation by paying attention to sensations as well as thoughts without any judgment. All the mindfulness practicing techniques are one or the other form of meditation.

  • Fundamental mindfulness meditation: Sit upright and focus on your natural breathing pattern or on a “mantra” that you can repeat in a silent manner. Allow your thoughts to flow without making any judgments and concentrate on your breathing pattern or mantra.
  • Sensations in the body: Notice all the sensations that happen in your body like tingling or itching without being judgmental and allow them to pass. Keep a tap on your body organs from head to toe in succession.
  • Sensory changes: Observe sights, smells, sounds, and touches. Name them in a specific manner and allow them to pass without making any judgmental decisions.
  • Emotions: Allow your emotions to flow in the present moment. Practice naming the emotions like “joy”, “frustration” or “anger” in a relaxed and steady manner. Agree to these emotions by not being judgmental and allow them to pass.
  • Insist on surfing: Cope with all the cravings and allow them to surpass. Notice the way your body feels once it gets hit by a craving. Replace your wish for the craving to leave the mind with a specific knowledge that it will eventually subside.

Meditation and Other Methods That Enhance Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be refined by meditating, which is a methodical way of focusing your concentration.

You can learn meditating on your own by following the instruction on audio or by reading a book. You may benefit greatly by taking support from a group or an instructor, who can help you in staying motivated. Find someone who uses meditation in such a way that it is compatible with your goals as well as beliefs.

If you certain medical condition, you may benefit by relying on programs that are medically oriented and involves meditation. Take referrals about various local groups from your physician. The cost of meditation classes are covered by most insurance companies.

Getting Started On Mindfulness Meditation

Certain kinds of meditation involve concentrating on breathing patterns or focusing on a mantra and allow the thoughts to parade into the mind to eventually go away. Techniques of concentration meditation and other activities like yoga or tai chi can bring in relaxation responses which are extremely valuable in bringing down the response of a body to stressful event. Mindfulness meditation is usually built upon practices that involve concentration. This is how it works:

  • Just be with the flow. While practicing mindfulness meditation, once the concentration is established, you will feel the thoughts, emotions and sensations overflowing. You should not judge them in any way.
  • Focus. You will also notice some surrounding sensations like sights, sound and touch that are present in the moment. The task lies in not latching to a specific emotion, idea or sensation. The challenge also lies in not getting caught up in the thoughts from the past or things that you are predicting about the future.
  • Stay with the feeling. In certain times, the entire process may never seem comforting but as the time advances it will lead to self-awareness and happiness as you feel at ease even after being subjected to a wide range of emotional incidents.

Practicing ‘Acceptance’ in Mindfulness

Primarily, practicing mindfulness includes accepting all the emotions or feelings that arise at every moment. It also includes being self forgiving and kind to your soul.Things to keep in mind:

  • Gently readdress. If the mind strolls into daydreaming or criticism bring it back to the present moment and link it to the present sensations.
  • Keep on trying. If you miss a meditation session that you had intended to follow, begin again.

By working on accepting various experiences during meditation, it becomes easy to acknowledge to anything that comes in your way head during the day.

Self Start Exercises for Practicing Mindfulness

If you find mindfulness meditation appealing, visiting a class or following a meditation audio tape can be a great way to begin. Meanwhile, below-mentioned are self-start exercises that can be tried.

Practicing Mindfulness Meditation

You can learn about some essential mindfulness meditation by this exercise.

  • Be seated on a chair with your back straight or in a cross-legged manner on the floor.
  • Pay attention to your breathing pattern such as the sensation of air flowing in your nasal cavities and through your oral cavity or the growing and falling of your belly when you breathe.
  • Once you have brought your concentration to the sensations, broaden your focus. Keep an awareness of sensations, ideas and sounds.
  • Cling to your thoughts or sensation and do not be judgmental about it. If you have too many thoughts racing in your mind, focus on paying attention to your inhalation patterns.

The effect connected with this type of meditation is just like taking doses of medicine. The further you practice, the more effective it will turn out to be. Most people need 20 minutes to be with the flow, so this can be great way to begin with the meditation. If you are ready to commit to it more seriously, it is recommended to practice meditation for 45 minutes and six days per week. You can also begin with the practice for a shorter duration.

A Less Formal Approach – Staying in the Present Moment

When mindfulness is approached in a less prescribed ways, it has similar effects and helps you in staying in the current moment as well as involve yourself in your life completely. You can choose a particular task or event like showering, eating, walking, playing with children etc… to follow informal mindfulness. Making a note of the following points while performing the tasks will be of great help:

  • Begin by concentrating on the feelings that your body is experiencing
  • Inhale through the nasal passage, letting the air to travel to your lower belly. Let your abdomen spread out or inflate completely.
  • Exhale via your oral cavity or mouth
  • Observe the sensations you feel while inhaling and exhaling
  • Gradually follow the task and will complete concentration
  • Engage all your senses completely and relish on these sensations

When you find that your mind is wandering around elsewhere other than the task, bring the attention back to the present moment in a gentle manner.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 19, 2019

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