One of the most common things people want to know about mindfulness and meditation is what the difference is between them.
What is Meditation?
Our daily lives are often full with a busy mixture of thoughts and things we have to do. We find ourselves torn between several tasks that all need addressing at once.
Meditation can be an intention we make to set aside some time for ourselves. It can be as little as 10 minutes or an hour.
We can choose 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.
You can also apply it to other activities which can be done as a meditation. For example, walking, colouring, eating, drinking.
Any of these things become a meditation depending upon your intention, when you sustain your focus and go with the flow! You’ve probably experienced this before without necessarily calling it ‘meditation’!
What is Mindfulness?
Another aspect that many wish to know about mindfulness and meditation is ‘what exactly is mindfulness’?
To be mindful is to remember to be in the present moment as it is happening. We pause from the drama and distill 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.
To be mindful gets us back on to what is currently happening. It means we can really appreciate what is going on right here, right now!
It also means we develop the art of curiousity towards what we do and think and feel. Most often this occurs in an automatic way. Mindfulness invites us to become more open-minded, alert to our behaviour and not take things for granted.
Know the Benefits of Meditation and Being Mindful
1. Live your Magical Life!
- What is really important in your life?
- What really matters?
- What would you be better off doing more of?
- What would you be better off doing less of?
~ Roger Walsh
With mindfulness and meditation, you can start to awaken from a sleep-walking life. To a more conscious, awakened life. Where you find beauty and appreciation in everything. You learn from everyone you meet. Life can be experienced 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.
3. Stress Relief and Sleeplessness
So by giving ourselves time to meditate we are able to slow down and re-balance our body, mind and spirit.
This lowers our blood pressure and reduces the constant mind chatter that can cause insomnia and general anxiety.
It also slows down busy Beta brainwave activity to a more restful Alpha brainwave pattern.
4. Pain Relief
As we focus on the breath and drop down into a place of peace and serenity, we step out of the cycle of anxiety and stress that builds up with continuing chronic pain.
Follow the rhythm of some deep, abdominal breaths, to guide the mind away from the pain and lessen the hold on tension. This elicits the body’s Parasympathetic Nervous System, allowing muscles to relax and adrenaline to drop.
It may not eliminate pain completely, but helps you to cope with it more effectively. A more relaxed body makes a great difference to how we feel when we are facing struggles of any kind.
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. It redirects our thoughts – gently, bit by bit, until we step up to a place where we start to see the light again.
With mindful awareness we have the power of choice. This means that we can be more alert to our reactions, and we can respond differently.
6. Awareness of your Self
You are more than you think! Look deep within, and you will find that your ego is only a tiny wave atop the vast ocean that is your real Self. Look within, and at the centre of your mind, in the depths of your soul, you will find your true Self.
~ Roger Walsh
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. That you have a depth of power within you that has been previously untapped.
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.
As you nurture self-love, self-respect and self-compassion, 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!
A practical question you might want to know about mindfulness and meditation : Do I have to sit in the lotus position on the floor?
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. You can also lie down.
Is Meditation Linked to a Religion?
This works alongside anything else you choose to do in your life.
And added benefits include increased kindness, compassion, non-judging, trust, appreciation and awakening to the miracle of being alive!
It’s true that many of the key Wisdom Religions have some sort of meditation, prayer or contemplation at their heart. You don’t need to follow any religion, yet your path with mindfulness and meditation is a well-trodden one! And yours will be unique!
‘Essential Spirituality’ by Roger Walsh