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Mindfulness and Meditation – Ancient Solutions to Modern Day Problems
Due to the much increased recent publicity of both mindfulness and meditation, and the number of celebrities openly endorsing it such as Russel Brand, Oprah Winfrey and Hugh Jackman (among many more), you could be forgiven for thinking that mindfulness and meditation are new ideas or ‘fads’.
Well, they are not.
The concept of mindfulness is deeply rooted in history as part of many ancient global cultures. It simply means spending more time in the present moment, with a heightened awareness of yourself, how you feel, your thoughts and emotions. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and is thought to be one of the best ways to boost mindfulness and emotional wellbeing, so the two are closely linked, but not the same.
The emotional state in which many people find themselves in the modern western world is the polar opposite of mindfulness. People are often bogged down and somewhat overwhelmed by their own abundant thoughts, fears and worries. Many of these fears and worries tend to be about the past, the future, and various other things far beyond their own remit of control such as the economy, world events or other people’s behaviour and actions. It is not uncommon for people experiencing this state of mind to be unable to quieten their mind and relax, even at times of supposed rest. As a consequence, they often struggle to get to sleep, and the sleep they do get is of poor quality, further contributing to a lower level of overall wellbeing.
Too busy to do…anything
The widespread existence of this state has created a stressed out culture of ‘busy worriers’ where people are often ‘too busy’, yet feel like they get nothing done, creating a negative and draining downward spiral of emotion. Having worked in the corporate world for several years, I am all too familiar with the prevalence of this culture of being perpetually ‘busy’, yet not always perpetually productive.
People who exist in this state often truly believe that they have too little time to eat properly, exercise and certainly to even contemplate something like meditation, which is therefore dismissed as an unwelcome additional item on their daily ‘to-do list’. The irony here is that by meditating or practicing mindfulness techniques, you actually create more time in your life and start to make more rational decisions about other aspects of wellness such as those mentioned above, and so make time for them. This is because your mind will function more effectively, your short term memory will improve, as will your basic cognitive function, and stress hormones which are known to impede performance in many aspects of life will reduce. It is quite likely that should these ‘busy’ people introduce meditation and mindfulness into their lives, they would find themselves getting more done in less time and being far more relaxed, calm, happy and healthy in the process.
The great challenge is to communicate these benefits to the people who really need them (which is most people) as, by definition, they struggle to prioritise it and to give it a chance. Mindfulness is a normal, natural, and very accessible concept that has simply been lost from modern western culture at some point. If this simple message can just penetrate where it is needed, then more people would be open to trying it.
By the time people book in to see me, they can often be in a very poor state of physical and mental health and may have even recently had a serious health scare, such a stroke or heart attack. These individuals are extremely receptive to trying anything I can suggest to make them feel and function better. Thankfully, there are an infinite number of lifestyle aspects that people can improve upon, but mindfulness must always be a feature. It always helps to start with mindfulness, and then everything else becomes a whole lot easier.
It is much harder to help people to change their lifestyle and to try something like mindfulness and meditation when they have nothing immediately ‘wrong’ with their health or lifestyle. People may be stressed, busy, and not present in their daily lives, but they don’t know how bad things really are yet. They feel like they still function okay, and they see no cause for alarm; perhaps that stroke or heart attack is not on the immediate horizon for them…but then again, how would they even know.
Catching these people in the mindfulness net has been greatly helped in recent times by corporate mindfulness initiatives whereby I, and other mindfulness coaches have been asked to come into businesses and deliver talks, seminars and even courses on mindfulness. This is very effective as it introduces mindfulness to the people who wouldn’t otherwise have explored it, and opens their eyes to the many benefits.
Some of these less likely people to experience it, have become some of the greatest advocates, and I am often pleasantly surprised by people who have attended my courses years ago who didn’t seem too interested initially, who proudly inform me that they have been meditating and practicing mindfulness ever since, and experienced great personal benefit.
One of my personal goals is to bring these powerful concepts to the masses, and to help as many people as possible to learn to meditate and to enrich their own lives with the space and time that a more mindful mindset can give. The increasing corporate initiatives will not solve the problem, because not everyone works in a big business, and not enough of them are embracing it just yet in any case. I teach meditation and mindfulness on a one on one basis, but there are only so many hours in the day! I will be running seminars in the not too distant future to enable larger groups of people to learn about mindfulness, and learn to meditate. However, again, this has its limitations geographically if you are talking about truly bringing it to the masses.
One option, which makes meditation immediately accessible, is to start with guided meditation, as it can be done without any prior training at all. This usually entails listening to an audio track of relaxing music with a voice over, to guide you into relaxation and help you to focus on improving your mindset and even enacting certain behavioral change.
So, in an attempt to enable as many people as possible to introduce meditation into their lives, I have taken the time to record a guided mindful meditation audio track of 30 minutes in length, which can be downloaded here in just a few clicks, and is available to everyone, all over the world.
If you have read this and want to give meditation and mindfulness a try but don’t know where to start, I would suggest that you try to listen to this guided mindful meditation once or twice per day for a week or so, and just keep a note of how you are feeling each day. Make sure you listen to it at a time when you have 30 minutes or so to be undisturbed and peaceful. Morning or night are often the best times to listen, and it is best to be seated rather than to lie down or else you may just fall asleep.
If you experience positive results, feel calmer, more measured and relaxed each day then please get in touch, and I would be happy to discuss teaching you how to practice solo meditation (where you meditate yourself with no guided audio) which has been shown to be the most effective form of meditation. There are many different variants of solo meditation and we will explore them all together and find the one best suited to you.
I have seen some fantastic mindset transformations in my work with both meditation, mindfulness, and indeed hypnotherapy for stress relief and anxiety, and I hope to oversee many, many more in future.