Let’s face it. Stress is real. We have all felt overwhelmed at some point in our lives. Most of us have probably looked for ways to reduce or avoid these negative feelings that just tend to take over our mind and bodies. In this search for Zen experience or inner peace, words like “meditation” and “mindfulness” often come up. So, what are these practices and how can they have positive affects on the brain?
Meditation is a practice that helps us become more aware of our mind and body. A meditative practice is a technique we use to train our mind to be more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body which eventually brings more balance into our lives. Mindfulness is a practice that allows us to bring our attention to the present moment without any judgement. When being mindful, we can observe our thoughts, emotional changes, and body reactions.
“The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, its to stop letting them control you.”
What is it like to be mindful?
Let us take a few seconds and try a brief mindful exercise. Let’s bring your attention to your breath, and without making any changes, notice how the breath feels. Can you notice the cool air going into your nostrils? Do you feel the body’s up and down movement with each breath? Is this sensation close to your neck, in the middle of your chest, or close to the abdomen? Are you exhaling or breathing out through your nose or your mouth? Is the breath shallow or deep?
Now that you are more aware of our breath, are you curious about the sensations in other parts of your body?
The benefits of the mind and body connection…
Practicing meditation reduces stress. When we are mindful of the changes in our thoughts, emotions, and body, we can have better control over our body’s stress responses. We no longer react and feel overwhelmed with emotions. Meditation also improves our working memory. We can have better focus and concentration. Mindful practices alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can improve sleep. People who suffer from chronic pain symptoms find meditation beneficial in managing their symptoms.
Studies indicate that practicing meditation for just eight weeks can change the brain and improve our mental and physical health. Long term benefits of meditation include relaxation, increase in positive emotions, and enhanced self-awareness.
At Scarborough Psychology Clinic, our clinicians can assist you with learning different mindfulness strategies that you can incorporate into your daily lives. You can contact us today by booking an appointment.