Mindfulness has been practiced by human beings for millennia, but it is only within the last 30 years or so that scientific research has revealed its power for our well being and health. Dr. Herbert Benson and Jon Kabat-Zinn are pioneers in this field.
“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life”
This work and research has taken meditation and mindfulness practices out of spiritual life and into everyday life, and made it a practical healing tool for managing stress, anxiety and pain.
Its origins however are based in spirituality and the path towards enlightenment in the yogic and buddhist traditions.
In yoga, through meditation we calm the mind and connect to our inner wisdom. Meditation is the 7th branch of yoga called Dhyana, where we cultivate awareness of the self in a world that is ever changing. The ultimate goal is the 8th branch called Samadhi or enlightenment, where we become one with the universe, God or unbounded consciousness.
The purpose of buddhist meditation is to liberate ourselves from the delusion that is life in the human form and put an end to both ignorance and struggle. Meditation is the practice that will reveal the true meaning in life. When we reach enlightenment (Nirvana) we end the cycle of birth and rebirth.
There are many many resources on mindfulness and meditation on the internet. From ancient philosophy and scriptures, to the latest digital tools. Its easy to download audio files with guided meditations and apps to remind you to present.
The media now says that the practice of mindfulness is exercise for our minds, and will become as important as exercise is for our healthy bodies.
No matter how you approach mindfulness and meditation – whether it’s in the clinic, training room, gym, yoga studio, temple or church … the benefits are so clear and powerful that its a practice that is here to stay. I believe it will have a huge impact on how we relate to ourselves, each other and hence the world.
The only moment is now, so lets pause for a moment of mindfulness:
Take a deep inhale through the nose and let out a sigh on the exhale.
Feel both feet firmly planted on the ground. If you are sitting, feel where your thighs and hips are resting.
Begin to scan your body in your mind. Notice where any tension might be and allow it to release and soften.
Relax your forehead and around your eyes.
Release your jaw and let your tongue be soft.
Allow your shoulders to release down your back and away from your ears.
Relax your belly.
Check in with your hands and feet.
Feel your body softening.
Come back to following your breath in your mind. There’s no need to change it or do anything with it.
Allow yourself to simply be with the natural rhythm of your life.
Pause in this moment.
When you are ready open your eyes and take a moment to notice any shifts in your mind and body.