Meditation, a mindfulness-based activity originating from South Asian cultures, has become increasingly popular in Western cultures over the years, and has been gradually distancing itself from the religious context in which it is traditionally practiced. The mindfulness meditation technique encourages us to pay attention to our wandering reflections or feelings as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with our thoughts, but rather to observe them in an open, accepting and non-judgmental manner. Through mindfulness meditation, we can begin to see patterns in the way our thoughts and feelings occur, and with practice, an inner balance can be cultivated.
Research has shown that mindfulness meditation is positively associated with both an enhanced sense of general well being and an improved quality of life. The relaxation response that ensues meditation has also been associated with several short-term benefits to the nervous system including:
- A decrease in blood pressure
- An improved blood circulation
- A decrease in heart rate
- A slower respiratory rate
- A decrease in anxiety and stress
- An increase in feelings of well being
- Deeper relaxation
Learn how to meditate in the comfort of your own home
- Sit or lie comfortably in a calm and pleasant space
- Close your eyes
- Breathe naturally
- Focus your attention on the breath and on the way the body moves with each inhalation and each exhalation.
- Notice the movement of your body as you breathe
- If your mind begins to wander, redirect your attention to your breath
- Maintain this meditation practice for 2-3 minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods
Research has also shown that the frequency at which you practice mindfulness meditation is highly associated with an increase in general well being. So the more you practice, the happier you will be!
Schoormans, D., Nyklicek, I. Mindfulness and Psychologic Well-Being: Are They Related to Type of Meditation Technique Practiced? The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17 (7), 629-634.