There is such a buzz around meditation at the moment. People are experiencing real tangible benefits to their emotional health from devoting even a small amount of time (say 10mins) to meditation each day.
One popular form of meditation is known as mindfulness. This was popularised by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a man who spent time learning meditation from Buddhist teachers. He is said to have ‘taken Buddhism out’ of the practice to allow people who are not religious to experience its benefits.
What is it?
Mindfulness meditation means paying attention on purpose to the present moment. It aims to help gather scattered attention by focusing one’s attention on the breath, the body, or a mantra. This helps us to become aware of how the mind is drawn away from the present moment and encourages us to gently bring our attention back to the here and now. Being unable to take shift our attention from difficult thoughts and feelings is said to be the cause of suffering.
Studies show benefits for stress, anxiety, sleep, focus, and even immune system functioning. Also- the brains of those who meditate daily change over time. The parts of the brain responsible for fight/flight (amygdala) show less activity and those areas responsible for higher-order brain functions like concentration and decision making show more activity.
Where do you start?
So..if your sold, you can start meditating straight away. There are some great Apps such as HEADSPACE which has a 10-day free trial, the mindfulness app, and CALM has a 1 day free app. There are lots of YouTube videos explaining mindfulness in more depth but I’ve found that the more you can actually DO, the more you will learn about the benefits. Would love to hear about your experiences.
Look out for part 2 of this article where I will be sharing my thoughts on how mindfulness relates to the Sikh practice of Simran (This question comes up a lot in the Sikh community).