Mindfulness in a nut shell
Meditation is not
* clearing the mind or emptying it of all it's random thoughts.
* controlling your thoughts or
* only thinking positively.
* letting your thoughts come and go without taking them too seriously.
* learning to discern and follow the helpful productive thoughts from the not so productive ones, we become less head wrecked and subsequently our thinking does calm down.
* practicing being focused so that in our every day life we can concentrate on just one thing
How do you remain centered, calm and balanced as the world goes on around you? How do you find peace in the midst of the drama and in that peace find joy no matter what your external circumstances are?
Nelson Mandela managed to attain this whilst he was in solitary confinement in prison. In one of the most challenging environments to do this, he freed his soul by practising compassion, forgiveness and opening his heart to allow his soul to rest in this peace. He found, amongst other things, equanimity and peace of mind.
If you think of your thoughts as waves on an ocean, constantly changing. Rough, smooth, calm, stormy. One minute you're thinking calm and peaceful thoughts, the next a storm brews and you're in a negative spiral. Sometimes you go from calm to stormy in an instant, sometimes its longer but eventually the clouds will come and you get attached to the battle of getting through the waves, riding the storm in order to feel peace again. To come out the other side. You know that another one is on it's way but you're hoping that it will be later rather than sooner but you feel you have no control over when it hits.
We have over 80,000 thoughts or waves a day, 60,000 of which are negative. Isn't it a little mad to think we can control them?
Mindfulness is the practice of coming to the present moment with full acceptance and non judgements. We do this by tuning into our breath, our body and our senses as each anchors us to the present moment.
As this definition says - it's a practice. Its not something that will happen overnight, but like going to the gym, the more that you put into it the more you'll get.
Scientifically it has been proven to:
Lower stress levels
Help with dealing with chronic diseases such as asthma, arthritis, etc.
Aids post-operative healing
Enhances the immune system
Increases the levels of serotonin promoting good sleep and the production of endorphins (happy hormones)
Decreases muscle tension
Helps in the treatment of headaches and migraines.
Promotes a sense of happiness and freedom.