What is mindfulness meditation? Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally focusing your attention on the present moment—and consciously practicing acceptance of what is present within the mind and body without judgment.
The practice of this type of meditation is being aware of physical and mental sensations like your heart beating, breath, and thoughts coming and going. This has been around for literally thousands of years, although until recently has not found its way into the mainstream as much as other types of meditation.
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism, but most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life.
Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness, pain management, and overall good health. It has been proven in studies to lower stress and to improve health in many areas from mental to physical conditions. Some experts believe that mindfulness works, in part, by helping people to accept their experiences—including painful emotions—rather than react to them with aversion and avoidance.
Mindfulness can be practiced in a variety of ways, but the goal of any mindfulness technique is to achieve a state of alert and focused relaxation by paying specific attention to thoughts and sensations without assigning cause or reason. This allows the mind to focus.
Basic mindfulness meditation will most often have you sitting quietly and focusing on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. You can practice by allowing thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on your breath or mantra. Notice and allow emotions to be present. Practice a steady and relaxed naming of emotions: “joy,” “anger,” “frustration.” Accept the presence of the emotions and let them go. Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling and let them pass as well.
Although you can learn to meditate on your own by following instructions in apps, books, on tape, or video, you may benefit from the support of an instructor or group to answer questions and help you stay motivated. Creative Wellness offers one-to-one meditation sessions and we can also refer you to local studios if you are interested in group classes.