1. What Are Its Origins?
Mindfulness dates back to the beginning of the Buddhist religion in 5000 BC when Buddhists rejected the main religion of India, Vedic teachings of Hinduism. It also has roots in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The main principals behind this mental state are to produce peaceful, non-judgmental thoughts by meditation.
While mindfulness can be practiced quite well without Buddhism, Buddhism cannot be practiced without mindfulness. In its Buddhist context, mindfulness meditation has three overarching purposes: knowing the mind; training the mind; and freeing the mind.
2. It Can Help With Illnesses
Mindfulness is something that is taught to terminally ill cancer patients. Although it won’t cure them of the disease, it can help their symptoms to become more manageable. The mindfulness therapy given to these patients can reduce stress and enhance their spirituality while curbing fatigue.
Most participants expressed a number of perceived positive effects of participating in the mindfulness program including increased calm, enhanced sleep quality, more energy, less physical pain, and increased well-being. This study gives support for the use of mindfulness programs in reducing stress-related complaints among some patients with a cancer diagnosis.
3. Mindfulness = Eternal Happiness
Meditation’s purpose is to bring happiness from an inner peace, and that source of peace is inside you.
The real source of happiness is inner peace. If our mind is peaceful, we will be happy all the time, regardless of external conditions, but if it is disturbed or troubled in any way, we will never be happy, no matter how good our external conditions may be.
4. Meditation Eases Anger
To be angry is a normal reaction and takes the form of irritation, dislike or displeasure. These are normal responses to a situation that causes you disquiet where you should be able to state your feelings and walk away if necessary to avoid conflict. Anger at its worse can be out of control and may cause harm with abusive language or worse - this is not normal. Mindfulness meditation can help produce calm and if practiced enough can help in an anger management program.
The goal of the present study was to explore how anger reduction via a single session of meditation might be measured using psychophysiological methodologies. At both stages, the experienced meditators’ physiological reaction to the anger induction reflected that of relaxation: slowed breathing and heart rate and decreased blood pressure. Naïve meditators exhibited physiological reactions that were consistent with anger during the pre-meditation stage, while after meditation training and a second anger induction they elicited physiological evidence of relaxation.
5. The Positive Benefits
Mindfulness is focusing on one complete, wholesome, moral, good aspect in your life that is known to provide peace and calm. This replaces thoughts of anger, sadness and stress and the result of this is physical changes in the brain. Bringing the positive benefits of relaxation that can be an aid to reduce mental health disorders.
Using diffusion tensor imaging, several recent studies have shown that training results in changes in white matter efficiency as measured by fractional anisotropy (FA). In our work, we found that a form of mindfulness meditation, integrative body-mind training (IBMT), improved FA in areas surrounding the anterior cingulate cortex after 4-wk training more than controls given relaxation training. Our results demonstrate the time-course of white matter neuroplasticity in short-term meditation. This dynamic pattern of white matter change involving the anterior cingulate cortex, a part of the brain network related to self-regulation, could provide a means for intervention to improve or prevent mental disorders.
6. The Downside
Although it seems like an amazing way to keep sadness and negativity at bay, there is no scientific proof that mindfulness actually affects us by reducing anxiety and increasing positive emotions in the long term.
The few available meta-analyses report moderate evidence that meditation affects us in various ways, such as reducing anxiety and increasing positive emotions. However, it is less clear how powerful and long-lasting these changes are — does it work better than physical relaxation for example? Or than a placebo?
Some evidence even suggests that mindfulness can be harmful to those who require this type of therapy. It is said that patients may find they cannot refocus their depressive thoughts and may feel even worse when left alone to meditate.
However, for the handful of people who don’t believe in mindfulness, there are countless others who swear by its powerful and long-lasting results.
7. It Requires Practice
Those who practice meditation have done so for years and meditation isn’t a tool you pick up and do and then leave. The practice of meditation is a lifestyle change, a training program to change the focus of the human condition that judges, condemns and gets angry to one of peace, serenity and calm.
The Buddhist nun, Ayya Khema, said that meditating is the best way to rest and take care of our minds. At a retreat, she told us: “We take the mind for granted. It thinks all day, dreams all night. It’s always busy and we expect it to just keep going. But the mind, being the finest tool in the universe, has to be treated like any other delicate tool. If it’s abused and not given rest, it won’t function as well.
8. How to Practice Mindfulness/Meditation
In Buddhism, mindfulness has three purposes: knowing the mind, training the mind, and freeing the mind from worries and mental discomfort. Sitting in silence, focusing on your breathing, and remaining focused on positive, happy thoughts are the starting points of remaining mindful. It’s all about controlling your inner peace regardless of the external circumstances. Other forms of therapies include hot stone massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, walking bare foot in the sand, and walking on the grass. Each of these acts will allow you to take time out to be in the moment and enjoying the wonder that surrounds you.
Meditation is a mind that concentrates on a virtuous object, and that is the main cause of mental peace. The practice of meditation is a method for acquainting our mind with virtue. The more familiar our mind is with virtue, the calmer and more peaceful it becomes.
Find a warm, comfortable, quiet place and with eyes closed repeat a word or phrase that has a positive, good, calm meaning for you. The words can be peace, kindness or beautiful world. This becomes your mantra.
Then relax your muscles by thinking about each joint from the toes up by moving the part and saying ‘Relax’. Some sites suggest you roll your head around - this is not good practice and can cause problems.
Allow thoughts to come and go. After a minute repeat your mantra. Do this for about 15 minutes, thoughts will still come and go, that is fine, just gently and effortlessly return to thoughts about your mantra.
During meditation it is important that you not TRY to meditate or make anything happen. Instead you must alway relax into effortlessness and let the mantra come in the same simple, effortless way as thoughts come. When you “try to make meditation happen” that will diminish the benefits of meditating, and it can cause pressure in your head or even a headache.
9. It's Important for Mental Health
Studies have shown that stress and worry contribute to mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. Mindfulness-based interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing these troubling symptoms. Since the 1970’s, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists have developed a number of therapeutic techniques based on mindfulness to help people who are experiencing a variety of psychological conditions. Practicing mindfulness may reduce depression symptoms, stress, anxiety, and it may even help in the treatment of drug addiction. The practice of mindfulness also appears to provide numerous therapeutic benefits to people with psychosis and may also be a preventive strategy to halt the development of other mental health problems.
Although mindfulness-based therapy has become a popular treatment, little is known about its efficacy … These results suggest that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations.
10. Mindful Eating
Another time to remain mindful is while eating. This requires paying full attention to the experience of consuming food and drinks. Slowing down is one of the best ways we can get our mind and body to communicate what we really need for nutrition, as well as taking note of how eating affects our mood and how our emotions influence our eating and have the potential to create unhealthy eating habits.
Mindful eating is all about paying attention to the way we eat. Research has shown eating mindfully improves digestion, regulates our appetite and helps us enjoy our food much more. It’s even dubbed the antidote to dieting, as tuning into what we eat can be enough to help us make better choices and avoid overeating.
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