7 Key Facts – Mindfulness Meditation
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
I just got back from the amazing Solterreno Retreat in Spain and a 12 day TTR1 Teacher Training Course in MBSR – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. www.mindfulness-spain.com An incredible experience and a hugely valuable one for me personally and professionally.
The subject of Mindfulness Meditation is a fascinating and complex one and there is a wealth of information available about nowadays – in fact so much information that I thought it might be useful to share my 7 Key Facts about Mindfulness Meditation.
7 Key Facts about Mindfulness Meditation
1. Just Do It! You wouldn’t expect to get the benefits from yoga or any other form of exercise by reading about it and you won’t get the benefits of Mindfulness Meditation unless you practice it. Ideally every day.
2. There is now some neuro scientific evidence to suggest that this type of Meditation changes the structure of the brain. “Participating in an 8-week Mindfulness Meditation program appears to make measurable changes in the brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.”Sarah Lazar, PhD, of MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital.
3. What Mindfulness Meditation Is: The awareness that emerges through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally to how things are.
4. What Mindfulness Meditation Isn’t: Trying to empty your mind of Thoughts. In fact it isn’t “trying” to do anything. It is more about learning to watch your thoughts – and your body sensations and your emotions – as they pop up without feeling the need to get caught up in them or try and change them. Not easy for your average Western society control freak (I am raising my hand at this point by the way!)
5. We can become prisoners of our own thoughts. We are always talking to ourselves- and a lot of our self-talk is negative. Once we stop to observe our own thoughts we realise that we are engaged in a constant stream of self-chatter, coaching, advising, wishing, criticizing, planning and running simulations about what might happen or not happen in the future. The good news is that most of these thoughts aren’t “real” – the less good news is that we think they are!
6. Mindfulness is about cultivating the ability to watch our own thoughts, body sensations and emotions as it were from a “safe distance” and accept what we find – rather than be frantically working to avoid them (unpleasant thoughts, sensations, or emotions) or hang on to them for as long as we can (pleasant thoughts, sensations, or emotions). Paradoxically, the less we try and control things the easier they become. And the more relief we feel.
7. Mindfulness Mediation can be done anywhere. Standing up, sitting down, laying down. You don’t need to be “somewhere quiet”. You don’t even have to shut your eyes. You can drop in to a quick “3 Step Breathing Space” at any point in the day (or night) that you feel you need to re-group and recharge yourself or just get some space around you. You don’t need special clothes, special kit, or any particular weather conditions. You don’t need to do it in a group (although you can and many people like to when they first start). You don’t need to change who you are or what you do or how you live.
You “just” need to Let Go and be fully in the Present Moment for a while. Or to quote the “founder” of Mindfulness as we know it in the Western World today – “See for yourself whether letting go when a part of you really wants to hold on doesn’t bring a deeper satisfaction than clinging.”