Its Time to be Mindful of Mindfulness Mediation
By Paula Rothstein
Just beyond the chaos that frequently engulfs your day is a stretch of time. It is not a particularly long stretch of time, but what is there can offer a veritable garden of peace; quiet and bright; and full of potential if you choose to use it. This garden can be accessed through what is called “mindfulness meditation.” All that is required is a still body, using a trained mind to focus on what is rather than what was or what will be.
Like all muscles, the mind, too, needs daily attention if it is to stay strong and perform tasks with a certain level of elasticity. Integrating meditation into your daily routine can offer great assistance in furthering mental gains. However, like the training of any muscle, the gains are not immediate. In the end it is persistence that pays the greatest dividends.
What can mindfulness meditation do for you?
As Marcus Aurelius once said, “The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.” Meditation is exactly that – the starting point for change. If you can change your mind, or even if you can quiet it long enough to hear your heart and soul, you have the potential to change the very direction of your life.
Historically, there may never have been a society that has strayed so far from the fundamentals of focus as the one we now live in. The need for peace within ourselves is reaching a crisis level which explains why meditation is now, finally, piercing the crust of what is mainstream in America. Thankfully, like the acceptance of mindful eating, mindful meditation is gaining acceptance and legitimacy even amongst the traditional medical specialties.
Meditation provides results
Research shows that those who have embraced meditation with regularity for as little as eight weeks experience measurable changes in the gray matter of the brain. M.R.I. scans noted both increases and decreases in the gray matter that would affect in a positive way the memory, ability to empathize, sense of self, and stress adaptation.
A recent study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science was performed by Justus Liebig University and Harvard Medical School. It focused on the following four key components that may account for meditation’s positive effects:
1. Attention regulation
2. Body awareness
3. Emotion regulation
4. Sense of self
Whether you are a novice or an advanced yogi, instruction books on meditation and how to achieve personal improvement in all four areas, above, abound. And while it is a subject of study that can be as highly complicated as you wish to make it, it is also amazingly easy to begin. For example, you may wish to start out with a simple summary of meditation such as the one found in 8 Minute Meditation by Victor Davich. To get started you need only apportion a small segment of your day to sitting still, focusing on your breathing, and training your mind to focus on the present. Allow your thoughts to rise to the surface and then let them disappear.
Eventually the brief peaceful moments you spend in meditation will begin to positively affect the rest of your day, and you will become better able to draw upon this garden of tranquility whenever you feel the need.