One of the most frequently asked questions about mindfulness and meditation is what is the difference between them. They are really interchangeable but here's how you might make some distinction between them. Our daily lives are often full with a busy mixture of thoughts and things we have to do. We can often find ourselves torn between several tasks that all need addressing at once.
Meditation can be an intention we make to set aside some time on something we wish to fully focus on. It can be as little as 10 minutes or an hour, in this instance, to sit in stillness and quiet, to observe and notice just one thing at a time. This could be your body, breath, thoughts or feelings. A meditation practice like this, done regularly every day, can provide a greater sense of peace, calm and self-empowerment.
You can also apply it to other activities which can be done as a meditation. For example, walking, colouring, eating, drinking. It's the intention you place on sustaining your focus and being present with the flow, that can make any of these things a meditation. You've probably experienced this before without necessarily calling it 'meditation'!
Another of the most frequently asked questions about mindfulness and meditation is 'what exactly is mindfulness'?
We spend much of our time on auto-pilot or wishing we were somewhere else! We easily become overwhelmed with anxiety, stress or negative thoughts. Being mindful is remembering to be in the present moment as it is happening; pausing from the drama and distilling a moment into being present and fully aware. This is done by gently guiding our minds away from repeated, negative self-talk, or the numerous distractions around us, back on to what is currently happening. It means we can really appreciate what is going on right here, right now!
It means becoming more curious and interested about what we do and think and feel, often in an automatic way. Mindfulness means becoming more open-minded, alert to our behaviour and not taking things for granted.
To Live your Magical Life!
If you are always rushing on to the next thing, or moaning about your current life, when will you start to live your magical, meaningful life?
With mindfulness and meditation, you can start to awaken from a sleep-walking life. To a more conscious, awakened life. To find beauty and appreciation in everything. To learn from everyone you meet. To live with a profound sense of peace and joy.
If we can respond to situations and choices from a deep-centred and balanced place, our decisions will reflect that. We always have a place to go, deep within ourselves, when life throws up challenges that we might not immediately know how to respond to. Even becoming aware of our auto-pilot reaction to an event can allow us that crucial moment of power. We notice our breath and follow this with a calm response, rather than a heated reaction.
Stress Relief and Sleeplessness
One of the most popular benefits of meditation is stress relief. So many of us find our lives spiralling out of control – busy beyond belief. So by giving ourselves time to meditate we are able to slow down and re-balance our body, mind and spirit. This reduces our blood pressure and reduces the constant mind chatter that can cause insomnia and general anxiety.
Meditation can also assist in pain relief. As we focus on the breath and drop down into a place of peace and serenity, we can step out of the cycle of anxiety and stress that builds up with continuing chronic pain. By focusing on something like the breath, we guide our minds away from the pain and lessen our hold on tension. It may not eliminate pain, but can help us to cope with it more effectively. A more relaxed body can make a great difference to how we feel.
Meditation and being mindful, can alleviate depression. Simple techniques give us back our power, which is something that we lose when we are depressed. We can feel as though our lives have no meaning, and our motivation becomes low.
We get caught up in focusing on negative states in our lives. Meditation can be a powerful tool in helping assist us out of the trough of despair, redirecting our thoughts – gently, bit by bit, until we step up to a place where we start to see the light again. Meditation shows us that we have the power of choice – by becoming aware of our reactions, and seeing that we can respond differently.
Awareness of your self
Through meditation you can become more aware of your self. You realise that you are able to take charge and change your thoughts and manage your feelings differently. At Place of Serenity, an important aspect of this work is to live your life from your heart. It's very often the place that we shut down because of difficult experiences. Nurture self-love, self-respect and self-compassion, and it naturally expands out towards others. Scientific studies show that we have the ability, through meditation, to change the responses of our brains. It is in your power to take charge of your life and become your best self!
One of the most frequently asked questions about mindfulness and meditation for a beginner is about sitting. Do I have to sit in a special way that I may not be able to do? No! Your posture in meditation is about feeling comfortable and allowing energy to flow throughout your body. At Place of Serenity sessions you can choose to sit on a chair or on the floor with cushions, in whatever way suits you best.
No. It is about being kind to yourself, giving yourself time to be still and become familiar with your deepest, true self. This works alongside anything else you choose to do in your life. Added benefits include increased kindness, compassion, non-judging, trust, appreciation and awakening to the miracle of being alive!
Just make sure you are wearing clothes that you feel are comfortable, preferably loose around the stomach. You may wish to bring a little blanket or shawl to keep you warm.