5 Important Points on Mindfulness Meditation

1. Mindfulness is an observing, not a thinking process

Mindfulness uses the mental process of observing or noticing rather than thinking. The observing part of your mind does not have an opinion, any desires, likes or dislikes, its only process is to observe. The observing part of your mind can only observe the present moment and can focus the inner world, the outer world or aspects of both all at once. Aspects of the inner world we can observe include thoughts, feelings, memories, urges or sensations. Aspects of the outer world we can observe include sounds close by or far away, sensations such as vibrations, the wind against our skin, tastes, smells and so on.

2. It’s normal to get distracted 

It’s normal and natural to get distracted by thoughts when practicing mindfulness, it happens to everyone. Your ability to notice that you have been distracted and refocus on the present moment is where all the learning and re-wiring of the brain happens.

3. Always set a timer

You need to set a timer or use a recording. This way you can aim to be 100% mindful for a set amount of time rather than letting your thinking mind decide ‘yeah, that’s enough’.

4. Some days are better than others and that’s okay

Mindfulness is a process that can never be truly mastered, there is always room to grow. Some days you may feel really connected to the present moment and other days you may be distracted by everything and anything. That’s okay, go easy on yourself. On the days where it’s especially difficult to focus, your repeated and sustained effort is going to teach you more than ten days of perfect practice. On these more difficult days practice self love and be soft and humble with yourself.

. supta-baddha-konasana  

This yoga pose is called ‘supta-baddha-konasana’. Putting one hand on your belly and one on your heart, whilst practicing mindful breathing, this is a great way to cultivate an attitude of self-love. This is a powerful activity to do if you are feeling frustrated or finding it difficult to focus.

5. If your aim is solely to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety or worry you are setting yourself up for failure

Feelings of relaxation and symptom reduction may arise, such as lowered anxiety, however these are just a beneficial by-product of having contact with the present moment. By all means enjoy positive feelings as they come up, but try not to make them your sole purpose for practicing. Your aim when practicing mindfulness should be to have contact with whatever you are experiencing in present moment with an attitude of openness and acceptance.

Below is 10 steps to mindfulness meditation by the Garrison Institute

ten steps to Mindfulness

The most important public health study you have probably never heard of…

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study is the largest ever investigation conducted to asses associations between adverse childhood experiences such as maltreatment, abuse and trauma and how this affects health and wellbeing as adults.

The ACE study found that certain childhood experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life. Some of these adverse childhood experiences include:  experiencing physical, sexual or psychological abuse, parental marital breakdown, parental drug or alcohol dependence, parental mental health issues, parental imprisonment or having a parent who had been involved in domestic violence.

The ACE score attributes one point for each category of childhood adverse experience included in the study. The higher the score, the greater the exposure and therefore the greater risk of negative consequences later in life.

Three of the most important findings included:

Firstly, two thirds of the adults in the study had experienced one or more types of adverse childhood experience. Of those, 87 precent had experienced 2 or more types. This showed that people who had an alcoholic parent, for example, were likely to have also experienced physical abuse or psychological abuse. In other words, adverse childhood experiences usually didn’t happen in isolation.

Secondly, there was a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, as well as mental illness, doing time in prison, and work issues, such as high absenteeism.

Thirdly, more adverse childhood experiences resulted in a higher risk of physical, mental and social problems as an adult.

Things start getting serious around an ACE score of 4. Compared with people with zero ACEs, those with four categories of ACEs had  a 240 per cent greater risk of hepatitis, were 390 per cent more likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema or chronic bronchitis), and a 240 per cent higher risk of a sexually-transmitted disease.

They were twice as likely to be tobacco smokers, 12 times more likely to have attempted suicide, seven times more likely to be alcoholic, and 10 times more likely to have injected drugs.

People with high ACE scores are more likely to be violent, to have more marriages, more broken bones, more drug prescriptions, more depression, more auto-immune diseases, and more work absences.

This study began to uncover a whole new light in relation to understanding about the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world who use coping methods – such as alcohol, cannabis, food, sex, tobacco, violence, work, methamphetamines, thrill sports – to escape intense fear, anxiety, depression, anger.

Public health experts, social service workers, educators, therapists and policy makers commonly regard addiction as a problem. Some, however, are beginning to grasp that turning to drugs is a normal response to serious childhood trauma, and that telling people who smoke or overeat or overwork that these are bad for them and that they should stop doesn’t register when those approaches provide a temporary, but gratifying solution.

“The truth about childhood is stored up in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, our perceptions confused, and our body tricked with medication. But someday the body will present its bill” — Alice Miller