In The Mindful Way through Depression, Mark Williams wrote:
Start living right here, in each present moment. When we stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, we’re open to rich sources of information we’ve been missing out on—information that can keep us out of the downward spiral and poised for a richer life.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books and articles written on mindfulness, meditation, and breathing. I invite you to begin a practice of learning about these subjects and becoming aware of the huge impact and benefit they can have on your life. Learn the basics. Don’t shy away from meditating thinking it’s something woo-woo.
For decades, I was told by the church not to meditate or do yoga because those were against God. That’s very odd, because when I’m practicing meditation, I feel closer to God than EVER. Meditating allows me to connect to God on a level that can only be done one- on-one. For me, prayer is when I’m doing all the talking to God. In meditation, I finally get quiet enough to HEAR. I listen to what God is saying to me!
As I embraced mindfulness and meditation, I felt an all-around peace. My thoughts were clearer; my energy was focused. Life had an easier ebb and flow. Messages were crystal clear. I began to sense, see and hear angels. The more I surrendered my agenda, my expectations, and my ego, God was able to speak to me in a powerful way.
Embarking on this sort of practice might seem daunting. Let me take the scariness out of it for you by providing a simple guide to get started. Often the words, mindfulness and meditation, are used interchangeably. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that they both have numerous meanings. However, they are quite different. For our purposes, I’ll share an easy way to differentiate the two.
Mindfulness means being aware or focusing on something intently; being in the present moment. During meditation, you are being mindful. But you can also be mindful throughout your day during various activities, such as: as you drive, eat, play with your kids or talk on the phone with a friend. Mindfulness has been embraced by millions of people. You find it in the boardroom (Google), the classroom (various school districts), and even within our government.
Here are some top ways to be mindful throughout your day:
- Eat slowly and with focus. Enjoy each bite along with your company and the atmosphere you are experiencing.
- Focus on the person who is in front of you as you are talking to them.
- Be 100% present no matter what you are doing — writing an email, texting, driving, working out, walking on the beach, eating, doing the dishes, talking to your children, playing. Whatever you do — do it with all of you!
According to Doing and Being: Mindfulness, Health, and Quiet Ego Characteristics among Buddhist Practitioners, the 2011 research article that published the survey results in the Journal of Happiness Studies [12(4): 575-589], there were five key ways that mindfulness training increased physical and mental health.
- It strengthened the immune system and physiological responses to stress and negative emotions.
- It improved social relationships with family and strangers.
- It reduced stress, depression, and anxiety while it increased well-being and happiness.
- It increased openness to experience, conscientiousness, and agreeableness plus reduced negative associations with neuroticism.
- It led to greater psychological mindfulness, which included an awareness that is clear, non-conceptual, and flexible; a practical stance toward reality; and present attention to the individual’s consciousness and awareness.
The official definition of Meditation is to engage in contemplation or reflection, usually with a focused mental intent or a single point of reference. According to Psychology Today:
It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment.
I begin and end each day with prayer and meditation. When I first began meditating, I used a guided meditation which helped me relax while staying focused. As my skill increased in this area, I was able to take a few deep breathes before dropping into the space of openness in almost an instant. When I’m seeking guidance on important issues in my life, meditation is always my first stop. I invite you to look within your own heart for God’s direction for your life.
Studies have shown in meditation, EVERY cell in the body fills with more energy which results in joy, peace, and enthusiasm.
Specifically, here are a few other benefits:
- Reduces stress/Decreases anxiety.
- Adds clarity and peace of mind.
- Lowers high blood pressure.
- Decreases tension in the body.
- Increases serotonin production.
- Improves the immune system.
- Increases the energy level.
- Improves concentration.
- Encourages healthy lifestyle.
- Problems shrink.
- Brings to mind solutions.
The great news about meditation is that the results are cumulative. As you embrace the practice, the benefits accumulate. Start where you are. By opening up space inside, you are free to experience the joy of being fully present, here and now.
©2017. Lara Jaye. An excerpt from More Than Enough: Discover Your Limitless Potential and Live Your Bravest Dream. www.LaraJaye.com
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