I went from being a stressed-out guy to a reasonable citizen after learning to practice mindfulness meditation.
This didn’t happen overnight.
I learned about mindfulness meditation while listening to episodes of the Tim Ferriss show.
He’s interviewed hundreds of successful leaders from different industries.
One of the common keys to their success has been mindfulness meditation.
So I figured I’d give it a try.
As a caveat, I come at mindfulness meditation from a Christian worldview, so I have made some of my own adjustments to the practice.
I’ll mention some Christian mindfulness meditation resources at the end of this blog post/podcast episode.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
For the purposes of this blog post, I’m speaking more specifically about mindfulness-based stress reduction.
Web-MD defines it this way:
“MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) teaches “mindfulness,” which is a focus only on things happening in the present moment. Mindfulness is not a time to “zone out” or “space out” but is rather a time to purposefully pay attention and be aware of your surroundings, your emotions, your thoughts, and how your body feels. For example, you may sit quietly and notice your emotions. You might focus only on the sounds around you or how your food tastes and smells. When you are mindful, you do just one thing and you pay close attention to that one thing.”
The online medical dictionary defines mindfulness meditation as follows:
a technique of meditation in which distracting thoughts and feelings are not ignored but are rather acknowledged and observed nonjudgmentally as they arise to create a detachment from them and gain insight and awareness. (source – Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 9th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.)
A form of meditation or induced relaxation that focuses awareness on breathing and encourages positive attitudes to achieve a healthy, balanced mental state. Mindful meditation is advocated for reducing reactions to stress by inducing the relaxation response, lowering the heart rate, reducing anxiety, and encouraging positive thought patterns and attitudes. Practitioners of mindfulness meditation aim to cultivate self-awareness, and a nonjudgmental, loving, kind, and compassionate feeling toward themselves and others. (Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners)
20 Unexpected Ways Mindfulness Meditation Can Make Your Life Better
Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D., Science Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, wrote an article called 20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today
Because she’s an academic researcher, I’m using her list to share the benefits of mindfulness meditation with you. You can go directly to the article to read the research behind each of the benefits.
And I quote, directly from her article, 20 scientific benefits of mindfulness meditation.
It Boosts Your HEALTH
1 – Increases immune function
2 – Decreases Pain
3 – Decreases Inflammation at the Cellular Level
It Boosts Your HAPPINESS
4 – Increases Positive Emotion
5 – Decreases Depression
6 – Decreases Anxiety
7 – Decreases Stress
It Boosts Your SOCIAL LIFE
Think meditation is a solitary activity? It may be (unless you meditate in a group which many do!) but it actually increases your sense of connection to others:
8 – Increases social connection & emotional intelligence
9 – Makes you more compassionate
10 – Makes you feel less lonely
It Boosts Your Self-Control
11 – Improves your ability to regulate your emotions
12 – Improves your ability to introspect
It Changes Your BRAIN (for the better)
13 – Increases grey matter
14 – Increases volume in areas related to emotion regulation, positive emotions & self-control
15 – Increases cortical thickness in areas related to paying attention
It Improves Your Productivity (yup, by doing nothing)
16 – Increases your focus & attention
17 – Improves your ability to multitask
18 – Improves your memory
19 – Improves your ability to be creative & think outside the box
20. It Makes You WISE(R)
It gives you perspective: By observing your mind, you realize you don’t have to be slave to it. You realize it throws tantrums, gets grumpy, jealous, happy and sad but that it doesn’t have to run you. Meditation is quite simply mental hygiene: clear out the junk, tune your talents, and get in touch with yourself. Think about it, you shower every day and clean your body, but have you ever showered your mind? As a consequence, you’ll feel more clear and see thing with greater perspective. “The quality of our life depends on the quality of our mind,” writes Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. We can’t control what happens on the outside but we do have a say over the quality of our mind. No matter what’s going on, if your mind is ok, everything is ok. Right now.” – source: Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D.
How To Practice Mindfulness Meditation for Stress Reduction
I’ve taken the following clips from Mindful.org
Audio: Listen to 2 guided meditation practices from our podcast series
A 3-Minute Body Scan to Cultivate Mindfulness
A 5-Minute Breathing Meditation for Beginners
A Mindfulness Meditation Plan of Action
First, decide to make mindfulness meditation a habit.
Second, join the Thrive with Aspergers/Autism community by contacting me. I’ve learned it’s helpful to share our goals selectively, with people committed to our same goals and supportive of our efforts.
Third, check out one of the following apps/websites.
In Closing: A Daily Reset
I’ll confess that we have four cats at home!
I’m amazed at the amount of “litter bombs” they produce!
If I don’t scoop the litter pans on a regular basis, the “litter bombs” build up and the basements starts to smell.
In the same way, stress, worry, depression, and anxiety can creep up on us and take over if we don’t “scoop the litter pans” of our minds with daily mindfulness meditation.
I’m not consistent with my daily practice, but I find that when I do practice, I am much more serene, compassionate, and focused.
I hope you’ll join me in this daily practice!
P.S. For Christian readers, you may enjoy this article (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): Empirical Evidence and Clinical Applications from a Christian Perspective, by Rosales, Aaron; Tan, Siang-Yang | Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Spring 2017