(An Easy and Practical Guide to Mindfulness and Its Health Benefits)
As a wellness practitioner, I often get asked about meditation, the meditation process, and the associated health benefits of practicing mindfulness. The buzz-words for meditation these days is “mindfulness practice”, or “mindfulness meditation”.
I believe it’s because people have this mistaken notion that meditation is a lofty goal, and that you need to be a devoted yogi, or Meditation Master, who can reach a state of peaceful bliss every time they sit down to meditate. Which is not true…. So being “mindful” of the present moment seems easier to accomplish, but mindfulness and meditation are essentially one and the same.
This is a great Infographic on Mindfulness Meditation:
As someone who meditates myself, I wanted to share what I’ve learned through questions that I’ve been asked by those looking for more information about the health benefits of meditation, or about mindfulness in general.
1) How do you personally incorporate meditation into your daily routine?
I strive to meditate every day, usually in the morning before the day gets underway and the world around me is still quiet and peaceful. (But I do slip sometimes and get caught up in busy-ness and don’t get my meditation time in).
2) How does meditation help you stay productive?
It helps my mind to be more clear and focused, to have more energy to accomplish the tasks and activities that I need to get done that day, and I do get a lot more done throughout my day. I notice that if I don’t meditate, and it’s a busy day, I am not as focused and productive as on the days that I do meditate.
3) What are the health and wellness benefits of mediation?
There are significant health benefits to meditating as the graphic above illustrates. For many, it’s all about feeling better, as studies show that meditation is associated with improvement in a variety of psychological areas, including emotional well-being, stress, anxiety, addiction, depression, eating disorders and cognitive function. For others, it’s about the physical “healing” aspects of meditation. Research also suggests that meditation can reduce blood pressure, decrease the risk of heart disease and even improve the immune system.
For me personally, being mindful and spending at least 20 minutes meditating each day helps me be more emotionally calm and peaceful. One of the biggest benefits of meditating for me is that it helps me feel more connected to the universe around me. It also helps me feel balanced and supported, and life feels richer and more meaningful.
Other (but no less important) benefits of meditation include:
• Reduces pain and boosts the immune system.
• Relaxes the nervous system and relieves tension, fear and anxiety.
• Relieves insomnia and helps you sleep better.
• Frees the mind from self-doubt and silences internal chatter.
• Helps control your thoughts and emotions.
• Improves focus and concentration so you get more done.
• Helps you relax and calms the mind.
• Helps you feel happier and regain your enthusiasm for life.
• Generates feelings of optimism and hope.
I also found this great resource on the specific benefits of meditation that you may find useful.
4) What tips do you have for meditation and mindfulness?
Just do it. Life will always get in the way if you let it. But meditation has so many benefits if you develop a regular practice that you’ll miss it if you don’t make time for it. I know I do. There are a number of meditation practices that can work. In the article “Meditation 101”, you’ll find 6 approaches to meditating. My favorites are: following my breath, repeating a mantra, or focusing on “the sounds of life”. I sometimes start meditating / focusing my attention on the present moment by either following my breath or focusing on the sounds (I might do this for 3 or 4 minutes), and then I transition to my mantra.
A great resource, and one that I’ve recommended a number of times before for people who are beginning to meditate, is the book by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, “Mindfulness – Finding Peace in a Frantic World”. It provides 8 different guided meditations ranging from 3 minutes to 15. I like and recommend the recorded version of the book because you can sit and listen to Mark Williams’ voice guiding you through each meditation.
Lastly, keep in mind that all meditation practices are about focusing your attention on the present moment. Also, if you don’t have a full 20 minutes in the morning, just sitting and meditating even for 10 minutes makes a difference.
If you have any questions about meditation or how to incorporate mindfulness into your health, wellness or pain management program, email me at Maria@SagewoodWellness.com.
Have a balanced day!
About The Author
Maria Martos is the Executive Director and Founder of the Cancer Support and Education Program, and has been owner of Sagewood Wellness Center for 20 years. As a Certified Neuromuscular Therapist, Maria specializes in the treatment of severe, chronic or minor pain, as well as injury rehabilitation and prevention. She holds a certification in Sports Massage providing her with expertise to evaluate and address athletic injuries and to help professional and recreational athletes improve their athletic performance. Maria is also Board Certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. She holds a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology, and offers Holistic Counseling, focusing on Integrative Mind-Body Therapy to help individuals uncover and remove unconscious blocks that limit them from living their best lives. She is also a Reiki Master and Teacher, and has worked in the health care field for over 25 years. Her passion and life’s calling is to help others not just survive, but thrive in the face of challenges.