The brain is the most powerful body part we have in our bodies. It gives us the ability to feel emotion and to critically reason, classifying mankind as the most intelligent species on the planet. We know it’s potential but it has been scientifically proven that we only use about 10% of our brain at any given time revealing a large gap in the potential and power that we could be taking advantage of. Although there is not a sure way to unlock the other 90%, there is a method with the potential to aid in becoming more aware of one’s surroundings, emotions, and purpose on this universe. We are talking about a technique known as mindfulness meditation and will take a deeper look at this concept starting with the mindfulness definition.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
The most accurate definition of Mindfulness is: a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s own thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and environment. This may sound simple but, in a world like the one we live in today, filled with distractions by the second; it can prove challenging. The practice of mindfulness is a basic ability possessed by every human however, practiced by very few. When one is mindful, they don’t question their instincts, they simply recognise the feeling and sensation; bringing them to the surface and acknowledging them in an attempt to better understand where they came from and why they might have come up. This is not just a” feel good” practice, as a matter of fact it has been proven to aid in the combat of some of the largest issues facing modern society today.
What are the benefits of Mindfulness Meditation?
In late 2018 the United States declared a state of emergency, but not one that you might suspect; the opioid crisis. This should come as no surprise as the numbers support this phenomenon, with clinical depression, anxiety, and stress topping the charts when it comes to disorders and illnesses. While medications may be able to temporarily suppress the effects of these disorders or mask them for a few hours, a practice like mindfulness can almost completely diminish these feelings when practiced regularly. When one understands the sensations of their own body, they can act as triggers, signaling the exact moment they may need to take a step back, close their eyes, and breathe. Being aware and understanding why your body is reacting in a peculiar way significantly reduces anxiety, taking the guessing out and leaving you fully aware and in control of your feelings.
Several experts around the world have conducted MRIs in an attempt to analyze the brain while practicing mindfulness. The results show thicker grey matter in the pre-frontal cortex, the section of the brain used when thinking critically, while the area housing the amygdala, where stress is regulated, grew thinner. It also showed a significant growth of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Other studies have attempted to understand how practicing mindfulness could help with pain management, showing areas of the brain significantly thicken which experts say is the mind ‘disconnecting’ from the root of these feelings and past memories. Analyzing the data as a whole has proven the overall positive effects on the brain however, there is still much that is unknown. This is an interesting topic that many scientists and psychologists are taking an interest to.
How to Do it?
In a world that never seems to sleep, mindfulness can provide much needed moments of tranquillity and calmness, reducing anxious feelings and making mankind overall happier. As we mentioned above, this is a basic human ability, the trick is to actually commit to it and dedicate time for oneself and oneself only. It is not impossible, as a matter of fact it is necessary, as a person can only be strong for others if they are strong themselves.
A great way to start is just by dedicating time to oneself to just close their eyes and breathe. This will take practice, as we all have millions of things running through are brain every second of the day. Simply find a quiet place, close your eyes, and try to quiet the mind. This is the first and seemingly easiest, but the one that required the most practice.
Another great way is to quiet the mind actively. Those who cannot seem to sit still can embark on a journey and take a mindful walk. Walking can help to clear the brain and will allow one to get in touch with the sensations that arise in the present. It is easy to let your mind drift off along different tangents, especially on your first few attempts, but the most important thing is to recognize this challenge and work toward a better result the next time. Try and set a goal to walk mindfully daily or if that is not possible at least a few times a week.
Join a Group
If you are feeling a bit insecure or unsure about your first time, join a group that welcomes all levels. This not only provides support from others within the practising community but adds accountability making you more likely to attend a meeting when you schedule it.
How can you start?
We still have a long way to go to unlocking the secrets to the human brain. The brain has been a curious topic for years, with researchers discovering new and interesting facts frequently. Mindfulness is a large field that has sparked the interests of many experts around the world, maybe one day we will understand clearer the connection between the human brain and the natural world around us. While it has the power and potential for great things, we are surrounded by so many distractions, cutting its genus potential short. By introducing this concept into one’s life and adding a few of the suggested practices, they’ve taken the first step into becoming a happier and healthier individual. Understand your thoughts and understand the power you possess within with mindfulness.