Mindfulness is the mental equivalent to physical exercise. For many of us physical exercise of one form or another has become an important part of our lives, and as a result many of us have discovered the wide ranging benefits some type of regular physical training can offer.
Although many of us spend hours twisting and stretching on our yoga mats or wind down our cardio with a little Tai Chi, we don’t typically realize that many of these common exercise systems were originally developed for the purpose of keeping the body fit and balanced enough for more advanced forms of mindfulness practice.
Meditation has often been introduced with many unfamiliar cultural trappings that have hidden as much about its real essence as they have revealed. As more people are exposed to this powerful method for healing, peak performance and increased quality of life, it is our belief that meditation will someday be as common and valued as physical exercise is today.
On the most basic level mindfulness teaches you a better way to manage your stress and find peace of mind. Many of us live a life of near constant motion so it can be incredibly calming and refreshing to take a few moments out of the day to slow down and just BE. Chronic stress has long been known to be a serious threat to our health, and meditation is now being taught in health care settings around the world to combat the effects of chronic stress on our minds and bodies. Mindfulness meditation has been shown by modern medical research to aid in the treatment of a number of common physical and emotional symptoms and diseases. More information about the role of meditation in modern health care can be found on the RESEARCH PAGE.
One of the first things you discover when you begin a mindfulness practice is that much of the time you are functioning on Auto-Pilot. Scientific research in the field of cognitive science has revealed what meditators have long known. Most of your thoughts, emotional reactions, and behaviors are habitual patterns that involve very little conscious choice on your part. Some of these patterns are simply well-learned useful routines that no longer require much attention like brushing your teeth or washing your hands. However, other unconscious patterns of thinking and reacting come from old past experiences that obscure the truth of the present moment and may no longer be appropriate to your life today. Mindfulness meditation lets you SEE these old ineffective patterns of thinking and reacting with enough clarity and freedom to let them go. You can then choose a different path and reclaim for yourself the eternal creative promise of this present moment.
The increased awareness and capacity for conscious choice that mindfulness meditation develops puts you back in the driver’s seat of your life. And it opens you up to new levels of insight, wisdom, and self-understanding. As your habitual reactions are recognized for what they are deeper dimensions of your own self begin to emerge naturally. What is of true value and significance in your life is seen with greater clarity and appreciation. In this way mindfulness puts you back in alignment with your own deepest core, your deepest self, your Wise Mind.
Mindfulness meditation, and the increased awareness and presence it brings, is ultimately a gift you give to yourself. It improves your physical health, re-centers you, and reduces your stress. And just as physical exercise benefits you in many ways and aspects of your life so to does meditation. It brings peace, confidence, resilience, and increased self-awareness. It changes the way you perceive yourself and the world around you. And it teaches you how to BE PRESENT – a skill that improves every other area of your life.