I’m currently reading Ariana Huffington’s book ‘Thrive’ and though I’m only a third into the book, the chapter on mindfulness and meditation resonates with me.
I’ve been meditating on and off through the years (more off than on if I am honest), but I do practice what I now recognize as mindfulness almost every day.
According to Psychology Today, “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”
My version of mindfulness is just before I fall asleep. I am not the sort of person, who as soon as my head hits the pillow, I fall asleep. I usually take between 10-15 minutes on a good say to fall asleep and this is when I reflect and recreate my day as well as see where I was wrong and try to re-do that experience. It’s only those admittedly rare days when I am so exhausted that I do go into a deep sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow that these reflections are not done. In between, I’ve tried to meditate, but I find that I do not have the disciple to do it on a daily basis.
After reading the book, I am more than convinced that I should start BB & GG on trying (the operative word here, ever tried to get teens to stay still?). We did try getting them to meditate once, but couldn’t sustain it, but I am going to give it another shot again. With the heavy stress they are under, this may be a good solution to get them to stay grounded and maybe be able to deal with this stress.
To ensure that we get it right this time, I’ve been reading up on the benefits of mindfulness and meditation and from what I’ve read the benefits far, far outweigh the efforts.
I consider meditation to be a part of mindfulness, where we try to still our busy minds and try to be in the present. You can use anything to anchor your mind – a word or even an image. Indians, and specifically Hindus are known to chant “Om” for this and the vibrations this sound makes is supposed to be very good not only for the individual, but also the environment surrounding you and puts you in a relaxed frame of mind, which is what meditation and mindfulness are all about.
Someone who practices mindfulness and meditates on a regular basis is someone who is more satisfied with life, someone who knows and accepts what life brings to them and becomes fully engaged with the ‘now’, rather than the ‘later’. This ability helps cushion you against the adversities that life will inevitably bring to you.
Scientists have also discovered that practicing mindfulness and meditating regularly help you physically – by relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, giving you the ability to manage pain and improve sleep. All this which a twenty-first century worker needs desperately!
The best way to do this is to find a time of the day when you can practice on a regular basis and stick to that. I prefer doing this just before bed, some people prefer doing this first thing in the morning, but it should be your call. Choose a relatively quiet place where you will not be interrupted as well as bombarded by stimuli. Relax your body and mind. You can close your eyes if that helps or you can focus your attention on an object or image. Take deep and confortable breaths and focus your attention on how you breathe. Your mind will start to wander and when it does, gently bring it back to the present. Having something to focus on like a chant or an image helps in this. I also like to keep a timer on my phone for the initial days when I know I can’t focus too much. Start small, maybe 2-3 minutes initially, gradually moving up the time you mediate and be mindful to as long as you can.
If you do this, I’d love to hear how this went. I will be starting this with BB & GG soon and will post a follow-up on this as soon as there’s some benefit. I am hoping that doing this with them for a few weeks will make this a lifelong habit and will help them through their busy and stressful lives.