Mindfulness & Meditation
Health benefits can be achieved by adding mindfulness to your daily practice. What is mindfulness? Meditation?
Meditation is the act of spending time in quiet thought – usually with purpose or intent. You might consider or ponder a reading, a thought, or reflect on something that brings you relaxation or joy. In general, mindfulness is being aware of the present without judgment or analysis of the situation. In other words, as thoughts come into your mind, you acknowledge them, and then let them pass through as fleeting thoughts. You pay attention to your surroundings, your physical and emotional feelings, and your thoughts. Mindfulness can be defined in several levels of depth for the circumstances it is applied – such as mindful eating.
Possible benefits of mindfulness include:
- Reducing chronic stress and exhaustion
- Improving the immune system (may reduce chronic illnesses including cancer)
- Decreasing depression & anxiety
- Healthy relationships
- Adherence to behavior change plans
- Feeling of increased focus and clarity
Mindful Meditation for Well-being
Yes, we will add another definition! What is well- being? Well-being covers a variety of disciplines – or dimensions of wellness identified by the wellness industry. For this discussion, the dimensions identified include your physical, spiritual, emotional, environmental, social and occupational (this includes the largest portion of our day no matter what our tasks include – and often encompasses our intellectual stimulation and financial life).
Balanced Wellness identifies spirituality as the ‘hub’ of wellness. To clarify, when speaking of spirituality in wellness, it refers to your values, meaning, and purposes in life. If we look at our wellness wheel, our values are the ‘hub’ of the wheel and determine our goals and our purpose in life. Finding and stating our values allows us to identify what is important to us in life and match our daily behaviors to those values. For instance, if you value ‘family’, but are spending 60 hours per week at work, your behaviors fail to match your values. This may cause stress and discontentment in life.
Mindful meditation to clarify and live by your values is a great daily practice. When you begin your day ‘centered’ on those things that are important to you – your focus, time, and energy are more likely to impact your decisions throughout the day. Try this exercise:
Identify 10 words that identify a value for you. Here is a list of words identified by our staff: family, honesty, adventure, joy, community, friendship, creativity, love, purpose, and respect. Now you choose your words.
Choose three top values
Each day ‘quiet’ your mind with the mindful breathing exercise. Now ‘meditate’ on the three words you have selected. If your mind wanders away from the words, bring your breathing back into focus and then bring the word back into focus. Think of your heart pumping with each breath and filling your heart with your value. Follow-up with an affirmation or intention. Let’s take family, love, and respect as our three words for an example.
Quietly breathe repeating each word with your breath. Move to affirmation and intention:
- My family is important to me.
- I am prioritizing my family.
- I love and respect my family.
You get the point!
As you finish your meditation time, focus back to your breathing and toward your heart. Keep the intention and affirmation close to you throughout the day and make decisions based on your intention. If you find you are stressed, anxious, angry, or any other emotion – take a mindful moment…. breathe and come back to a core value. Breathe in – repeating the word, and breathe out with the affirmation or intention.