As meditation and mindfulness continue to become words we hear in the media and the mainstream more and more frequently, there is a distinct difference in the meaning of the two words that I often see being...
Mindfulness & Meditation
Meditation, Mindfulness, Neuroscience, Mental Health, Stress Management, Stress Resilience, Corporate Wellness, Employee Wellbeing & More.
From the science to the techniques, learn all about the ancient practices of meditation and mindfulness that are reinvigorating the minds of modern individuals & professionals more with each passing day.
Learn More About Corporate Wellness Workshops On Mindfulness, Meditation, and Stress Resilience.
What Is Mindfulness?
As defined by the dictionary:
- The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. “their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
- A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
As defined by Headspace, Mindfulness is the idea of learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment.
What Is Meditation?
While mindfulness is an overarching principle regarding awareness and presence, meditation is the term describing the exercises that are dedicated to enhancing a state of mindfulness. Meditation utilizes specific techniques to coach the mind in order to improve focus, attention, emotional control, and presence.
As defined by Wikipedia:
Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Scholars have found meditation elusive to define, as practices vary both between traditions and within them.
Although meditation is an ancient practice rich in cultural history, alongside the modern-day adoption of this practice has come a deep understanding of how meditation affects our bodies and our brains. Meditation has become neuroscience’s golden child as researchers continue to uncover countless benefits of the practice. As it turns out, modern scientists are catching up to the knowledge Tibetan monks have already known for millennia.
Modern Applications of Meditation and Mindfulness
Although meditation is utilized as a practice across a wide range of cultures and religions, it has also been adopted for a variety of secular applications across the globe. These uses include but are not limited to:
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
- Clinical Uses.
- Relief From Anxiety & Depression.
- Workplace Stress Reduction.
- Meditation Workshops.
- Weekly Meditation Sessions.
- Corporate Wellness Training.
- Wellness Benefits.
- Slowing of The Heart Rate.
- Reduce Cortisol & Adrenaline.
- Brain Training / Neuro-Hacking.
- Enhanced Focus & Productivity.
- Improved Memory & Response Time.
- Thickening of Grey Matter In The Cortex.
- Reduce Age-Related Brain Decay.
The list of uses and benefits grows each year as countless studies continue to generate new findings on the benefits these exercises have on the mind.
The Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
As mentioned above, meditation is a hot topic for brain researchers around the world. The benefit of this mass influx of scientific research is that we are now able to truly understand what meditation does to and for the brain. The benefits are widespread, and we are learning more about them by the week. With all this in mind, there are certain benefits are fairly certain about. These benefits include, but are certainly not limited to:
1. Meditation Improves Focus and Lengthens Attention Span
Much of meditation is about the exercise of focus. Just as squats and jumps strengthen the legs, exercising our focus during meditation, strengthens the part of the brain that controls focus for everything else. This leads to improved attention span in many areas of life, outside of meditations as well.
2. Meditation Reduces Anxiety & Stress.
Stress management is probably the most typical way meditation has always been depicted in Hollywood, but what we are now seeing is that this is a science-backed benefit of taking a daily sit to soothe the mind. While a short meditation break can calm the mind, ease the heart rate, and reduce the stress hormones cortisol & adrenaline, a regular meditation practice actually improves our long-term resilience against stress as well. An ongoing practice actually shrinks the place where our stress response triggers anxiety and further stress. What does this mean? It means that as we meditate we calm our body and flush the acidic chemicals of the stress out of our body. As we continue meditating regularly, we begin reducing the opportunity stress has to affect us in the first place. Just imagine who you would be, how productive you could be, and how much more at ease your body would be if you had both less stress, as well as a smaller stress response overall. Yes, it is amazing, and no, it is not too good to be true. There is a reason most of the world’s high producers are daily meditators.
3. Meditation Enhances Emotional Control And Emotional Health
Studies from around the world are acknowledging how effective meditation is at improving emotional control among adults and children who partake in the practice. One of the main reasons for this is that regular meditators experience a strengthening in the brain centers responsible for empathy for both themselves and others. As a result of improved empathy, communication improves, we begin to understand others better, and we are able to effectively understand their point of view. At the very root of it all, we are able to process more accurately the reality that we are all just living our lives as best we can, based on the tools, skills, and mental models available to us. Empathy improves emotional control, it improves relationships, and it improves emotional health. Meditation and mindfulness teach us how to strengthen the muscle of maintaining a calm mind, and that is one modest benefit with powerful implications in the real world. Humans are social creatures, and that is one thing that will never change.
4. Meditation Improves Self-Awareness
When you spend more and more true quiet time, with nothing but you, your thoughts, and your cushion, you naturally get to know yourself pretty well. Explicit self-inquiry is a key element of many different forms of meditation and is coincidentally a key ingredient in self-awareness. This is one of the most powerful impacts of meditation because, with a greater awareness of who we are, and how we hope to live our lives, we create the possibility of creating a reality that is right for us. Not for our parents, not for all the people judging how cool we are, and not for our professors… us. Meditation as well as many forms of mindfulness are powerful tools for bringing more of this into our daily lives.
5. Meditation Helps Improve Sleep Quality
That never-ending mental chatter that keeps you awake at night does not need to be there. With meditation as a toolset, most people report that the practice, regardless of when it is done, helps them sleep better, and fall asleep more quickly. Meditation is a powerful tool for both winding down the mind, and for keeping the brain in balance overall. Improved sleep is one of the most highly reported benefits of meditation, and I will back that up with my own experience. As someone who once suffered from insomnia on a regular basis, I now sleep like a baby, and with my daily meditation routine in full force, I can fall asleep quicker than I have ever been able to do before.
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