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Mindfulness meditation

Posted Sep 14 2008 4:53pm

Meditation has been found to have a positive influence on the body and mind. Successful management of chronic pain, increased ability to control blood pressure, and management of hormones associated with stress are a few of the physiological benefits associated with meditative practices. In addition to these physiological effects, meditation is also known to produce a variety of psychological benefits, including reduction of anxiety, enhanced sense of well-being, increased awareness of emotions and repressed material, and a greater sense of self-actualization.

There are two basic types of meditation: concentration and awareness. Concentration meditation techniques involve focused attention on a single object, while awareness meditation seeks to widen the focus of attention to all current internal and external experiences.

Mindfulness meditation falls within the awareness meditation category. Rather than disregarding your distracting thoughts, you simply observe your thoughts without judgment. It is important to be an impartial observer of what is on your mind. As you gain experience with this type of meditation, you will gain the understanding that your true essence - your essential spirit - is not the contents of your mind, but rather the observer of the contents. Recognizing this will help you detach from intense emotions and allow them to flow freely and easily. When practiced on a regular basis, mindfulness becomes a way of life and not just a technique.

If you want to give this type of meditation a try, I often suggest that people begin with a mindful walking practice. This simply means that while you are walking you keep your awareness on the experience of walking. Stay in the present moment and be aware of what your body feels like as you walk. Noticing the sensations as you put one foot in front of the other. When other thoughts come into your mind (and they will most definitely come) simply observe them and let them go.

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