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It would be critical to ask ourselves what are the key skills we felt we lacked and that we need to learn for 2021 to be successful.
Another thing to note is that mindful living is different from mindfulness meditation. Mindful living is actually engaging in one activity at a time and bringing all your attention to that activity with your mind and five senses.
This could be mindfully walking, eating or speaking. Mindfulness meditation is the formal practice of focusing your attention on one body part or breath. This practice of bringing your attention to one thing at a time, strengthens the associated parts of the brain, resulting in many benefits for the mind and body.
1. Why practise mindfulness meditation?
It helps to develop the observer self by focusing on one thing, your breath, and learning to redirect your thoughts as they show up, you will become acutely aware of the fact that you are not your thoughts. This ‘observer self,’ as it gets stronger through daily practice, will be the part of you that will help you figure out which day-to-day thoughts you want to let go of and which ones you will encourage.
2. It helps you live a life consistent with your values
By practising mindfulness meditation, you strengthen the executive centres of your brain and learn how to still the mind. In doing so, it becomes easier for you to not be driven by your internal chatter or external circumstances. It is the difference between being in a place of personal power where you choose to respond to the ones that are consistent with your values vs. being a victim of your internal and external circumstances.
3. Mindfulness meditation de-risks against every disease
One thing is clear from cutting edge research that there is no difference between mind and body. The establishment of the field of psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology in medicine asserts precisely this idea: a stressed mind is a stressed body and vice versa. And because we live in a world which enables and encourages us to be constantly ‘on,’ our mind and bodies are on overdrive. Biologically, that means our bodies are never recovering or resting, increasing the inflammation on our mind and bodies. Mentally, it means we are always living on the edge of a burnout episode. This constant state of inflammation causes havoc in our bodies resulting in disease. From autoimmune diseases to heart disease, to gastrointestinal issues and cancers—every dis-ease has inflammation at the core of it. By practising mindfulness meditation, and actively turning off the ‘fight or flight’ and turning on the ‘rest and digest’ system, you are de-risking yourself from every major mental and physical disease.
How you can begin your mindfulness meditation journey…
Mindful practices can take on many forms, but generally, mindfulness meditation involves breathing exercises and awareness of body and mind. The objective here is to successfully place attention on one thing — the breath, a sound, a sensation or any other object.
1. Break down the baby steps into micro-steps: Start with the tiniest step towards this goal and build momentum from there. Most people will not start meditating 10-15 mins a day, so start with 1 minute a couple of times a day and build up from there. The goal is to do it at the same time every day and slowly increase the time.
2. Do body scans: When people are first starting, they find it hard to focus on the breath so try listening to a YouTube video that will take you through a body scan. The body scan is a simple, structured way of checking in with the different parts of your body. The scan involves systematically sweeping through the body with the mind, bringing an affectionate, open hearted, interested attention to its various body parts.
3. Be patient with the process: You will not see the results of mindfulness meditation on your mental and physical health rightaway, just like if you started going to the gym and lifting 2kg weights, you would not see immediate results in your muscle mass. You would need to show up consistently and increase the intensity for you to see results over time.
4. Supplement with other single-minded activities. This can include chess, puzzles, colouring, sewing, yoga that will help build the muscles of mindfulness through daily activities.
Through consistency and dedication to mindfulness meditation, the benefits are endless. With 2020 behind us, we know all too well how much stress and pressure we already have on our shoulders. We as humans have the tendency to give in to these stressors, but with a mindful outlook on life and practising meditation regularly, you can anchor yourself in the present moment and regain focus on your path ahead.
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