Hello and welcome to a new episode of the MabsArts Podcast. (blogpost edition) I am your host, Antonio “Mabs” and today we will be talking about what Mindfulness is, how it can help you lower your stress and how to properly practice a Mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, often used as a therapeutic technique.
Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.
Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation.
One study including over 3,500 adults showed that it lives up to its reputation for stress reduction (1Trusted Source).
Normally, mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines.
These effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking.
In an eight-week study, a meditation style called “mindfulness meditation” reduced the inflammation response caused by stress (2).
Another study in nearly 1,300 adults demonstrated that meditation may decrease stress. Notably, this effect was strongest in individuals with the highest levels of stress (3Trusted Source).
Research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia
Less stress translates to less anxiety.
For example, an eight-week study of mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce their anxiety.
It also reduced symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as phobias, social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks (9).
Another study followed up with 18 volunteers three years after they had completed an eight-week meditation program. Most volunteers had continued practicing regular meditation and maintained lower anxiety levels over the long term (10).
Meditation may also help control job-related anxiety in high-pressure work environments. One study found that a meditation program reduced anxiety in a group of nurses.
There are many simple ways to practice mindfulness. Some examples include:
- Pay attention. It’s hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world. Try to take the time to experience your environment with all of your senses — touch, sound, sight, smell and taste. For example, when you eat a favorite food, take the time to smell, taste and truly enjoy it.
- Live in the moment. Try to intentionally bring an open, accepting and discerning attention to everything you do. Find joy in simple pleasures.
- Accept yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend.
- Focus on your breathing. When you have negative thoughts, try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute can help.
You can also try more structured mindfulness exercises, such as:
- Body scan meditation. Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides, palms facing up. Focus your attention slowly and deliberately on each part of your body, in order, from toe to head or head to toe. Be aware of any sensations, emotions or thoughts associated with each part of your body.
- Sitting meditation. Sit comfortably with your back straight, feet flat on the floor and hands in your lap. Breathing through your nose, focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. If physical sensations or thoughts interrupt your meditation, note the experience and then return your focus to your breath.
- Walking meditation. Find a quiet place 10 to 20 feet in length, and begin to walk slowly. Focus on the experience of walking, being aware of the sensations of standing and the subtle movements that keep your balance. When you reach the end of your path, turn and continue walking, maintaining awareness of your sensations.
That will be all for today’s podcast, I hope you enjoy it and can take some knowledge out of this podcast for your own meditation practice, as well as for the way you choose to live life. I was your host, Antonio “Mabs” and you’ve been listening to the MabsArts Podcast.
Hope you have a great day, Namaste. I love you.