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This page is about how self-compassion and mindfulness and skills such as forgiveness, kindness and compassion can help us with depression and anxiety.
Mindfulness meditation is the training of your concentration by focusing on a single object of attention. Mindfulness mediation often uses the breath, sound, or physical sensations to help you to do that.
What is mindfulness meditation? Why to practice it.
Mindfulness is the skill of practicing awareness of the present moment with acceptance. Awareness of the present moment includes awareness of sound, physical sensation, thought, and emotion.
It creates space between what we think and how we act.
This is often referred to as "the gap". Mindfulness meditation develops a gap between what we think, how we feel, and what we do. Mindfulness also helps to cultivate a higher level of awareness between our thoughts and emotions. When we are aware of what we are thinking we can question our thoughts. Often our thoughts are not true, but they cause us to feel the way we feel. Seeing this can help us to loosen up our more unskillful emotional states such as anger, or jealousy or fear.
It raises emotional intelligence
Mindfulness meditation can help us to get some distance from the automatic processes that cause us to quickly respond in unwise ways. The ability to recognize what you are thinking and feeling, separate from it, and then choose how you will respond is one that is refined with mediation. This is an invaluable skill, that can lead to tremendous benefits in your life.
It creates acceptance
One of the most powerful new tools in psychotherapy, and based in Buddhist psychology, teaching the concept of acceptance ( non judgment and opening to reality of experience) can help tremendously with a variety of mental health and health issues.
Acceptance, however, is not about agreement, or acquiescence to a situation but merely seeing the truth as it is instead of struggling against it. Acceptance is often the doorway to the action that enables us to change.
The concept of acceptance is illustrated below.
You go to the mechanic to get your car fixed. The mechanic indicates that you need new brakes, and you state that can't be so or shouldn't be so ( non acceptance) and therefore refuse to get your brakes fixed. You get in the car and drive off without fixing the problem, because you were not practicing acceptance. What is likely to happen?
Many of us live our lives this way. Refusing to accept the things we need to, in order to look at the truth so we can make different choices to help us live more happily.
Mindfulness meditation directly teaches you acceptance by opening you to uncomfortable and painful thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, and teaching you to be with them calmly.
Mindfulness meditation also teaches non judgment a component of self compassion.
If for example you are meditating and find yourself criticizing how you are doing it ( for example I can't focus, I'm not a good meditator) mindfulness meditation helps you to note that you are being judgmental and loosen the judgment. You say to yourself, my mind is being judgmental, but I don't have to listen to it.
What It changes the brain
Mindfulness meditation is shown to change the brain. Recently there has been an abundance of research that shows that the brain is plastic and malleable. Meditation is a tool that can actually change the structures of the brain and the neural pathways of the brain. For therapists, this strongly suggests that therapy that focuses on mindfulness can do the same.
Research shows mindfulness can :
Mindfulness meditation and therapy: the third wave of behaviorism
Psychotherapy has been through three major phases of behaviorism, referred to as waves.
The first wave of behaviorism focused on stimulus and response. These are the things you learned in college if you took a basic class in psychology.
The second wave of behaviorism was cognitive behavior therapy. The focus was on recognizing and changing your maladaptive thoughts, and how this could change your emotions and behavior.
Most research studies have focused on this treatment, and have shown it to be the most effective kind of therapy up until now.
The third wave of behaviorism focuses on mindfulness and acceptance based therapy. The results of the research are pretty astounding, and we are learning that the basic tenets of mindfulness can be taught by therapists, learned by clients, and produce major and measurable behavioral and biological change.
What is mindfulness meditation: how to practice it
Sitting in mindfulness meditation requires that you bring your attention back to the focused object of attention each time your mind wanders. It also requires you to accept what your experience is without judgment. So, if for example, you begin to think about your dinner, you don't judge yourself for being a poor meditator, you take note of what your thought is and simply bring your mind back to the focal point chosen. If your object of attention is the breath for example, you focus on breathing in and out.
When you notice your mind wander to a thought feeling or sensation, you simply pull it back like a dog on a leash. The best way to learn mindfulness meditation is from someone who is skilled, and there are a great deal of audios available online, some of which are free.
You may also be interested in these other pages on self compassion,how to be more self compassionate, mindfulness and self compassion, what is mindfulness meditation, and more about acceptance., components of mindfulness, mindfulness in therapy and mindfulness and psychology
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Learn about mindful communication here
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Myths about mindfulness meditation
Much can be said about mindfulness mediation. It is complex and simple at the same time. It's results are profound. Most people however, don't understand it and don't understand how to do it.
Mindfulness meditation is not about emptying your mind or having a blank mind. People will often say they can still there mind so they can meditate. Mindfulness meditation is practice of training the mind to be aware.
Mindfulness meditation is not about bliss or Nirvana. Often meditation is hard, although it can produce positive effects of stabilization of the mind.
Mindfulness meditation is not about escaping pain. It changes our relationship to the present moment by encouraging us to face it, observe it, and choose not to get swept up in it. Mindfulness mediation helps us to change the way we interact with distressing thoughts emotions or physical sensations.
Click this link for Tara Brach's "How to Meditate"