HONK! Swerve! Someone cuts you off in traffic. Do you yell and raise one of your fingers or do you stop and take a deep breath? The one you choose will effect how the rest of your day will go and ultimately how the rest of your life will go.
Mindfulness 101: What it is and why it goes hand in hand with meditation.
As we respond to events throughout our day, we are constantly creating emotional energy (or potentially destroying it).
It all comes down to how we react to the things that happen to us. Do we react positively or negatively?
Being mindful will ultimately help you feed this positive energy and fuel your emotional chi.
What it is mindfulness?
Simply put, mindfulness is being aware of what is happening in your head and the emotions you are feeling, without becoming overwhelmed by them.
In a way, being mindful allows you to detach yourself from your emotions and thoughts, so you can view them in a way that's separate from yourself.
Why is this important?
Ben Decker, author and meditation coach, explains how unhealthy thinking patterns can lead to other unhealthy behaviors, “It matters when you’re in pain, it matters if you don’t like yourself, it matters if you don’t like yourself so much that it triggers unhealthy habits.”
Being mindful helps you:
- Become more balanced in your reactions
- Create a more positive response, fueling your emotional energy
“What we want to do is become so aware of the thoughts that arrive in our minds that we don’t allow our inner critic to cut us down. That we don’t allow our own, harsh, negative thinking habits to prevent us from being kind and loving and generous, not only to ourselves but to other people.” - Ben Decker
Mindfulness has been benefiting health for centuries.
Mindfulness has existed for centuries throughout various cultures and religions and it is accessible to us as a tool to benefit emotional health and chi.
According to health and wellness experts, monks practiced mindfulness exercises as a form of meditation for more than 2,600 years. These monks viewed both mindfulness and meditation as a pathway to enlightenment.
Our brains are conditioned to constantly be scanning previous events, or forecasting future events. Our brains wander.
Mindful meditation focuses on dialing your brain back, directing your attention to the “now,” the “present.”
"Mindfulness is total awareness. It’s allowing the conscious mind to saturate and fill the present moment." Says Ben Decker. You can notice a dog barking or a car alarm going off, but you don't let yourself be concerned. If you get distracted, focus on your breath again.
Research shows that mindful meditation is actually able to change regions in the brain that are associated with:
- Sense of Self
- Regulation of emotions.
You may not know where to start, but with consistent effort, you’ll build up the mental strength and stamina.
Mindfulness and meditation can increase emotional chi, and physical chi.
Meditation and mindful living don’t just increase your emotional chi. They have positive effects on your physical energy as well.
“Just as the physical body has an immune system, the psyche also has an immune system. The way that the physical body’s immune system works, is it's highly intelligent. It’s programmed with its own purpose. It’s their natural purpose to function well and to heal. So our role in healing is to facilitate the conditions for healing.
When we get a cut...We need to clean it close it cover it and leave it alone. That same idea works with the psyche, the mind, the emotional body. You have to facilitate the conditions for emotional healing.
You have to clean it, cover it, leave it alone. In meditation we allow the body to go into a very deep, relaxed state. You want to access stillness but not rigidity.
The stillness opens up tension and the tension, and the tension is extra energy, and it’s intelligent it moves naturally where it’s needed most.” - Ben Decker
There are several advantages of mindfulness and meditation:
- Attention: Mindfulness practices and meditation can help increase attention span. One study in particular indicates that mindfulness meditation helped workers stay focused and on task for longer periods of time.
- Emotion Regulation: Engaging in mindfulness exercises helps with emotional recovery, reduces negative emotional responses, increases positive responses, and facilitates emotion regulation.
Compassion: More compassion is yet another advantage of mindfulness training. Studies show that employing mindfulness can help increase feelings of empathy and reduce personal distress.
“The extent that we love ourselves is the extent to which we can love and accept other people.” -Ben Decker
Calming: Research notes, “Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a clinically standardized meditation that has shown consistent efficacy for many mental and physical disorders.” In this scientific review and meta-analysis, mindfulness-based stress reduction was shown to reduce stress in healthy individuals.
Decrease Blood Pressure: In addition to the above benefits, meditation also appears to provide physical advantages. Meditation is able to positively affect blood pressure because it can help relax nerve signals that are involved in the “fight or flight” response and tension in the blood vessels.
- Helps Regulate Pain: A large study shows habitual meditation was associated with fewer complaints of chronic and intermittent pain. Additional studies show meditation is able to increase activity in areas of the brain associated with pain control.
How to maximize mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness is an incredible way to improve your emotional chi and benefit your mental and physical health.
“So much of meditation is about disengaging from the delusional thinking patterns of our minds and opening ourselves up to a more compassionate connected way of seeing things." -Ben Decker
So how can you improve your mindfulness and hone this skill? Check out these tips below:
Many of these tips are expounded upon in Practical Meditation for Beginners: 10 Days to a Happier, Calmer You. It's a great resource for beginners.
Mindfulness and meditation are all about exercising your mental strength, willpower, and stamina, much like working out in a gym exercises your muscles.
With consistency and dedication, you can positively affect your emotional energy and change the way you react to situations. It will improve your mental, physical, and emotional health.
"Every good or bad moment we have is temporary. If you’re going through something challenging good news, it’s only temporary. If you’re going through something wonderful or beautiful cherish it, because it’s temporary." - Ben Decker.
At Lakanto we are committed to helping people be healthy and believe that physical, mental, and spiritual health is connected.
Join us on the journey of mindful and meditation as we focus on increasing mental health awareness and discovering our chi.