“Do not dwell in the past and do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
Wisdom traditions from both the West and the East have recommended mindful meditation for thousands of years. In ancient times, the practice of non-judgmental awareness and intentional focus on one’s inner self that captures every moment’s experiences in the now, was considered as a way of finding relief from physical pain.
One of the greatest things about mindfulness is that the act itself allows you to stay in the present. It’s a state where you reflect upon “yourself” rather than on your past. This is what brings your attention into focus, which gives you a sense of awareness of where you are right now.
The origins of mediation can be found in India, dating back to the 1500 BCE, with the first mention in the Vedas teachings. The oldest form of meditation found in Hinduism is “mantra”, which is an aspect of mindfulness.
“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.”
Mindfulness allows you to enter a Zen state where you enter into “nothingness”. In other words, a Zen state allows you to be aware of yourself and your surroundings. You find a space within where you process things in different layers and are able to tolerate more. This state opens up the mind to possibilities and questions.
There are a lot of techniques through which mindfulness can be mastered but the practice requires personal investment and a consistent routine. The beauty of mindfulness is that once you have it in your grasp, the meditation comes more easily and can be done any time and in any place.
Why is Mindfulness Important and How Does it Benefit You
Based on research and studies by various institutions, the key benefits of mindfulness include decreased depression, improvement in general health and decreased stress levels.
Increased immune function
Higher brain functioning
Lowered blood pressure
Lowered heart rate
Lowered anxiety levels
Feeling connected to the moment
Increased focus and attention
Increased clarity in perception and thinking
Feeling of being calm
Mindfulness Supports Those with Depression
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
Thich Nhat Hanh.
Depression is a vicious cycle of health problems and anxiety. You never know when it will hit you, it just does.
However, only a few studies have been done on how mindfulness helps with depression. We have already established that being in the present moment and not dwelling on the future “ifs” is how you can change your life. The proof lies in a study conducted by Benjamin Shapero:
A psychiatry instructor at Harvard Medical School (HMS), Benjamin Shapero and Massachusetts General Hospital’s neuroscientist Gaëlle Desbordes wanted to explore an alternative approach for treating depression. After reflecting upon the methods at their disposal, they chose mindful meditation. The study began in 2012, where Desbordes recruited random people and together, she and Shapero observed them for two months under a strict regime of mindful meditation. She used magnetic resonance imaging to record brain activity before and after the study.
The MRIs showed that people who had mediated mindfulness regularly had significantly reduced level of brain activity. To take the study one step further, she took MRIs one more time when they were back to their daily routine and were not practicing mindfulness. Again, the results were astonishing because there was no change in the brain scans.
Now that this mediation technique has entered the mainstream, there are many options available at your disposal to practice mindfulness such as websites, classes, apps and other tools.
Light some essential oil candles, grab a large pillow, find a quiet place and meditate away.