Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and stimuli from the surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, (no judgment), of these thoughts and feelings. It maintains the belief that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment.
A mindful practice aims to foster ones capacity to let go of preoccupations and be fully alive and focused in the present moment. This is done by tuning into what one is sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.Thích Nhất Hạnh
Though it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in the last few decades. Jon Kabat-Zinn launched his Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since that time, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general and MBSR in particular, inspiring countless programs to adapt the MBSR model for schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and beyond. The basis of this program is meditation.
Meditation can be used as a therapeutic tool to help the mind focus on the present moment. It promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and enhances personal or spiritual growth. Those who meditate report they experience more joy, a greater appreciation of life and stronger social ties. Meditation can also benefit people with illnesses by helping to maintain personal well-being.
Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation and enables people to experience emotions without losing control. With consistent practice, meditation can produce a sense of calm that one can maintain with more ease.Research shows that meditation also helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In addition, meditation can result in greater insight into personal thoughts and feelings. Advanced mediators often experience an increased confidence and understanding of life situations.
In therapy, meditation can be used for the treatment and prevention of many stress-related conditions. Clinical research shows meditation as a valuable tool in reducing symptoms of panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, drug abuse and mood disorders. Meditation may also serve as an adjunct to therapy for high blood pressure, heart problems, cancer, insomnia, migraines and strokes. In addition it can aid in calming ones self and nurturing the spirit.
In my psychotherapy practice, I highly encourage everyone I work with to develop a regular meditation practice. I have maintained a meditation practice for 10+ years and have found it to be immensely beneficial. My thoughts on meditation have been informed by various perspectives including Christian contemplative, Hindu, and Buddhist philosophies. My goal is to help others develop a meditation practice that honors the spiritual path they follow.
A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!Zen Parable