Benefits of Mindfulness + Meditation
...enhance your presence by paying non-judgemental attention to your experience as it's happening now.
For a long time, I was contemplating taking an actionable step and diving into unfamiliar territory on a subject I was curious about for quite some time.
The unfamiliar territory for me was mindfulness and meditation.
Sure, I could read and watch videos about both with endless coffee supply, but that still didn't feel enough.
I had to attend something in person and truly experience the essence of both.
What was it? And how could it benefit my life?
Vasili Xypolias is the facilitator at Mindfulness 360, and for two weekends I had the pleasure of learning from him what it's all about.
Here are the highlights of my experience which I wanted to share with you in the hopes of introducing you to something that can enhance and add value to your daily life, as it has to mine.
Jon Kabat-Zinn says: “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”
(If you don't know who he is, no worries, check this out.)
As I understood it and also experienced it at the seminar, mindfulness is when you purposefully pay attention to your present experience which includes all your thoughts, feelings and sensations. You're observing them in a non-judgmental and curious way.
We're so used to operating on autopilot, "doing" instead of "being". We just react to whatever is happening to us, and we've forgotten how it is to respond intentionally to our present experience.
Technology doesn't help with this and keeps us in a more "mindless" state as opposed to helping us being mindful...
After attending the seminar, here's what I learned:
BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS:
You get to truly enjoy the essence of every moment because you're aware of each moment as it's happening.
There's a better understanding of yourself.
The good and the bad, you can become better at accepting things as they are. (We usually don't want the bad but they are part of life...)
Life becomes more intentional, and you experience the people and moments with more clarity and enjoyment.
Challenging and difficult emotional situations can be easier to handle.
You know what you're doing when you're doing it :)
Since you are more aware of your own presence, you have a better relationship with your body.
It's not what you think...literally..
As far as meditation goes, I thought it was something that you did for 15 minutes; you relaxed for that period by trying to quiet your mind, and then once your session was over, you forgot about it and continued your day as if nothing ever happened.
As it turns out, that is NOT the case.
During the four day seminar, we practiced various types of meditation (yes, there's more than one, mind-blown!) such as sitting, laying down and walking as well as one full session of doing various meditations back to back for a few hours.
Here's what I discovered practicing meditation:
It doesn't mean you'll stop your thoughts or emotions because that's not possible, but instead, you'll become comfortable in their existence.
Sure, I experienced calmness after, but that wasn't the point or the goal. In fact, there isn't a specific goal you're supposed to achieve in doing this practice. It's meant to be a safe place where you can observe your whole experience, and be better prepared to handle thoughts and emotions outside of formal meditative practice.
It hurts sitting down for an extended period, but you can find what's comfortable for you and permit yourself to move to alleviate the pain that may arise. It's not a strict form of practice meant to punish you by sitting up straight for a long time. You can listen to your body intentionally, and adjust as needed.
When I sat and observed my own experience, it brought a different dimension of awareness in my space. I was more present in my own body and became more comfortable with painful emotions that came up, such as sadness or grief.
You won't "fail" at meditation and there isn't a protocol that deems you "good or bad" at it.
You can start a practice or take 10 months off and return to it. It doesn't mean you can't start back up again just because you stopped for a while. It's always there, without judgment.