Exploring the Art of Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness-based therapy is an intense eight-week proven evidence-based alternative program which provides intensive, secular mindfulness practice to help individuals with depression, anxiety and stress. The primary goal of the program is to use mindfulness as a tool for improving one’s quality of life. Through the process of mindfulness meditation and mindful eating, depressed patients are able to gain a deeper sense of well-being, generate higher levels of happiness and increase their ability to manage pain. The program helps to retrain the brain, improving attention, self control, and social empathy.
Mindfulness is a state of consciousness that arises from observing the present moment without judgment and thinking about nothing in particular. This moment is filled with breath and movement, thoughts which arise and subsist without judgment, memory, or desire. The mind is easy to control: watch it and respond calmly and in a supportive way. The practice of mindfulness allows patients to appreciate the immediate experience of breathing and to become deeply relaxed and focused without worrying about thinking. It is not meditation; instead, it is simply awareness – mindfulness – on the present moment.
One of the core tenets of mindfulness is to focus on the sensation of breathing without judgment or attempt to control it. Patients are encouraged to observe and experience their breath. Rather than trying to “put” things into perspective or to rationalize the feelings of anxiety and tension, the patient’s attention is on the sensation of breathing itself. When attention is on the sensation of breathing, the distraction of thought arises as the feeling of breathlessness eases. This is a mind-body technique with which patients can develop great resilience and increases their ability to deal with physical and emotional stress.
Another cornerstone of mindfulness is the awareness of a bodily sensation. As mindfulness practitioners observe their breath and focus on feeling the sensations of breathing, they gradually move away from the sensation of breathing altogether. At first, this may be uncomfortable, as the mind races and thoughts begin to race along with the sensation of breathlessness. However, as more mindfulness is practiced, and the physical sensation of breathlessness is no longer the point, the moment will pass and the thought will lose its meaning.
To practice mindfulness meditation, a simple focus needs to be established: to pay attention. Distractions of any kind will occur, but when they do, the focus shifts onto the sensation of breathlessness rather than the distraction. Distractions that arise during a mindfulness meditation can be easily handled: a person may notice a squirrel in the grass or a flower in the window. Regardless of the distraction, the focus remains firmly put on the sensation of breathlessness, until the distraction passes.
With the mindful attention of mindfulness meditation, the breathing becomes an important aspect of the process of healing. Distractions of all types are possible, and the mindfulness practitioners can use the distraction to deepen their attention and eventually find complete insight and healing. A deeper understanding of breathlessness can lead to the empowerment of our power to heal ourselves, and we have the ability to free ourselves from all kinds of illness through our connection to breath and mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation is a beautiful gift to the mind, opening up a world of healing possibilities for all of us.