Updated: Jun 8
Mindfulness meditation has many positive effects on your mind and body, including reduced stress and anxiety and increased calm and clarity. Some studies even show that mindfulness meditation can physically change your brain by increasing the thickness of specific areas related to memory, empathy, and stress regulation.
To receive the most benefit from it, it's ideal to learn to practise mindfulness meditation with guidance from a trained and qualified teacher.
Here is a simple guide to get you started and you can also watch this 6 minute video.
What is the difference between Mindfulness and Meditation?
Mindfulness is about:
The quality of your attention at any given moment
Being present instead of lost in thought
Observing the experience we are having without judgment
Developing self-awareness of our thoughts and emotions
Becoming more thoughtful, compassionate, and empathetic
Living your life deliberately.
Meditation is just one way you can practise being mindful. You don’t need to practice meditation to be mindful, but you need to practise mindfulness to meditate.
History of Meditation
For thousands of years, monks in Eastern countries have been practising meditation. In more recent times, it has grown in popularity in the West. Here is some trivia about meditation:
Originating in China and India, monks were the first to practise meditation.
People in western culture started practising in the late 1800s.
The 1950s saw large-scale immigration from Asia to America due to the communist invasion of china. This brought Asian teachers to the West and strengthened and widened their audience.
During the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s, people used it to reach a state of higher consciousness.
It was during the 1970s, the health and lifestyle benefits of meditation started to become apparent.
Over time, various studies have shown the effectiveness of meditation in treating a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional stressors.
Types of Meditation
Meditation can be likened to travel – there are different ways to arrive at your destination, e.g., boat, plane, train, car. Many methods, techniques, and styles are specific to a spiritual or cultural tradition, period, text, teacher, or personal philosophy (e.g., Vipassana meditation is from Theravada Buddhism, and Transcendental Meditation is from Vedantic Hinduism).
Examples of meditation techniques include:
Relaxation – Yoga Nidra
Sound – music, chanting, singing bowls
Mantra – affirmations, mala beads, transcendental
Moving – Tai Chi, Chi Gong, walking, labyrinths, dancing, yoga
Art – drawing, mandalas
Insight – finding a solution to a problem or answer to a question
The style that I practise and teach is Mindfulness Meditation, as I love its simplicity and practicality and the many pleasant side effects! Mindfulness Meditation is:
A method for achieving mental clarity and emotional calm.
A mental discipline that requires focussed awareness.
A technique that uses attention regulation such as focussing on the breath, senses, or body sensations to train our minds to be present.
Secular, practical, and easy to learn with many physical, mental, and emotional benefits.
Benefits of Meditation
Physical Benefits (as you become more aware of your internal and external body sensations):
Decreases restlessness - as you learn it's okay to be still and do nothing.
Releases muscle tension, body aches, and pain - as you begin to tune into your body's needs and what it's trying to tell you. A constantly on high alert body is a recipe for stress and chronic disease.
Helps the body relax and sleep - as you learn to switch off the mind chatter.
Develops the ability to tune into your senses - providing greater enjoyment of day-to-day experiences.
Increases productivity at school, work, and sport - as your body feels rested and refreshed.
Emotional Benefits (as you become more aware of your feelings and reactions to them):
Enables the ability to feel and process emotions without being overwhelmed by them - as you practice allowing and accepting rather than avoiding.
Builds self-esteem and resilience - as you learn to accept and not judge your thoughts and feelings.
Improves the ability to react in a more thoughtful, calm, and less reactive way in challenging situations - as you learn to pause and engage other parts of your brain.
Builds peaceful and harmonious relationships with friends and family - learning about your own emotions creates empathy for others.
Mental Benefits (as you become more aware of distracting thoughts and things that stress you):
Quiets the mind chatter and excessive thinking - by staying present and not thinking about the past or the future.
Relieves stress and increases the ability to cope with stressful situations - as you get to know yourself and begin to build your inner strengths and resources.
Enhances focus and concentration - as you learn to regulate your attention.
How Meditation Works
It brings the body back into a state of rest and repair (homeostasis).
It gives an anxious mind something else to do (instead of overthinking).
It creates a mental space or pause between impulse and action (allowing you to respond in a better way).
It helps you stay present (as you have to pay attention).
It increases grey brain matter (learning and memory).
It preserves our telomeres (caps on the end of our chromosomes that shorten with age and disease).
It turns the stress response off (shrinks the amygdala and weakens its signal).
If you'd like to know more about Mindfulness Meditation and how to get started with your own practice, download my Quick Guide to Mindfulness Meditation by clicking on the button below.
Preparation to help you start a meditation practice:
What benefits of meditation interest you the most?
How could you use meditation in your life?
Where could you set up a meditation space in your home, what posture would suit you best, and do you need any equipment?
How long do you think you could dedicate to meditating each day, and at what time?
What obstacles or challenges (if any) have you encountered when beginning to meditate?
Like to know more about Mindfulness Meditation?
Try one of my free meditations
Read the other articles on my Meditation Blog
Order my book Cultivating a Calm Mind (see below)
Email or call me on 0438 915 830 to find out how I can help bring mindfulness and calmness to your everyday life