Are you finding life stressful? It’s not unusual to feel this way. Whether you’re a parent of four or simply a professional, life can be incredibly stressful. Paying bills, trying to find time in the day for yourself, and learning how to truly enjoy your free time are all things that can cause us to become stressed. Meditation is a great way to take time out of your day and learn how to relax. Relaxation often doesn’t come naturally to those of us who have a million things on our minds, so meditation helps us to develop the ability to declutter our minds. There are many forms of meditation including what’s known as ‘mindfulness meditation’.
What is Mindfulness?
In order to determine what mindfulness meditation is, it’s appropriate to introduce the basic concept of it. MIndfulness is a state of mind that means we are fully aware of nothing but the present moment. This sounds relatively simple, but it’s surprising how difficult achieving such a mental state can be. Mindfulness is when you have the ability to focus on the here and now, without allowing any other thoughts or distractions to impact your thinking. When a person lives a busy or stressful life, any spare moment of brain power is often devoted to planning the next day, or thinking about a past event that has left an imprint. The art of mindfulness is truly a skill, because our brains are vast processors of information, and even when we think we’re relaxing we’re usually not.
As such, mindfulness is a method of dissociating yourself from your schedule for the day ahead, the appointments you have coming up, and even nostalgic events from the past that have shaped your identity. Mindfulness is the art of shedding our mental clutter to such an extent that we can be truly present and aware of the immediate experience.
Mindfulness and Autopilot
Another aspect of mindfulness is that it trains us not to just live our lives on autopilot. Working full time, managing a household, and raising children can often require a high degree of organization and task management. This can result in living out our lives too mechanically, as we tick off completed tasks. The problem with living life in such a way is that we become desensitized to our experiences. Mindfulness is much more than just a method of relaxation. It is a way of life; a philosophical outlook. Being mindful is akin to possessing heightened awareness of the present, instead of just going through the motions of life in a robotic, detached manner.
Mindfulness and Meditation: The Perfect Combination
Mindfulness is an appropriate state of mind for meditation because meditation is a practice that involves focusing your attention on one thing. Different methods of meditation offer different points of focus, but the principle is basically the same. Quite often during meditation you either zone in on your breathing patterns, the rhythms of a particular part of your body, or on a positive word or phrase. Mindfulness and meditation go together perfectly because both are primarily concerned with the art of developing your brain’s focus.
It is important to have realistic expectations with regards to mindfulness meditation and the impact it can have on your life. Mindfulness as a way of life, and meditation, are not going to suddenly make your life perfect. Setting aside time for meditation will improve your life, but it won’t make all of your problems disappear. Meditation is best understood as a technique of self-management. Too many undertake it with unrealistic hopes of transformation and even enlightenment.
Vipassana is a specific type of meditative practice that comes from a form of Buddhism known as ‘Theravada’. This type of meditation means to see things as they really are. Vipassana is the official term for an advanced form of mindfulness meditation.
If you’re interested in learning more about meditation and would like to include it in your own life, it is best to start with simple concentration exercises. Mindfulness is an advanced state of mind, and it doesn’t just suddenly happen the first time you sit down to carry out Vipassana meditation. Before launching into mindfulness meditation techniques, it’s best to learn how to train your mind to focus.
It’s admirable that you want to improve your mental and emotional health, and you should be proud of yourself for taking this first step. Meditation can help to alleviate many of the symptoms of anxiety and stress, including headaches, insomnia, and stomach and digestive issues.