Mindfulness and Meditation: TLC for Your Brain
By Jen Anderson
Digital Content and Web Development, RI Consulting
There aren’t too many times, during the course of a busy day, when we stop and remember to breathe. When I say that, I mean, we rarely remind ourselves to become physically aware of our positions in space, of the breath we take in and release… We rarely invite ourselves to mentally push all of the intense feelings and recent memories of the stressors we’ve encountered to the edges, and allow ourselves to just be in the moment.
I’m supremely guilty of forgetting to do this. There simply aren’t enough minutes in the day, sometimes, and if I allow myself just one, that’s one less minute I have to accomplish the things I need to. What I’m forgetting, and what a lot of us forget, is that method of thinking is exhausting. For our brains; they become so overloaded with the things we think we need to hold onto, that they start compromising other things that would actually help us accomplish our tasks and goals in the first place: our ability to focus, set priorities and compartmentalize, organize our thoughts. There is such a thing as oversaturation, when it comes to brains.
Mindfulness is the process of intentionally bringing your attention to the internal and external experiences of the present. Mindful meditation is one way to practice extended mindfulness. It has been associated with stress reduction and assisting in the reduction of symptoms associated with a variety of mental and physical disorders [Gotink RA, Chu P, Busschbach JJ, et al. (Apr 2015)]. While the practice of mindful meditation can take many forms, you can get inspired by reading this article from Psychology Today; I strongly recommend you do, as it offers several helpful tips on getting started. You can certainly customize your practice to suit your needs, at home and in the workplace.
My own mindful meditation practice begins in the morning, before work, in a corner of my house that is quiet and where the sun shines in (when it’s shining, that is). Throughout the course of the day, I try very hard to listen to myself when I’m working, to gauge my levels of frustration or stress. When I am able, I’ll take just a moment and step away from my computer to practice mindfulness. I use the mantra “Om mani padme hum,” common in Tibetan Buddhism, to help myself focus and remove the lingering thoughts contributing to my stress. I wear a mala on my wrist to help me center my concentration in the words, and in the moment. It also serves as a physical reminder of my dedication to practice mindfulness. Generally, whether it is a half-hour before breakfast or a two-minute break from my desk, I tend to emerge from each meditation session focused and mentally strengthened, as if a big “Reset” button has been pushed.
Whatever you choose as your mindfulness practice, I honor you for taking that oh-so-difficult step: recognizing the power of right now, and taking the time to let it guide you into a more restful, peaceful, healing – and mindful – place.