Meditation and Mindfulness

 

Meditation involves the practice of learning how to still, quiet and focus our minds, while being completely alert and conscious. Incorporating meditation into counselling can be a great way to practice creating a peaceful place within ourselves, which can give us a sense of clarity, calmness and emotional positivity. Meditation practice can come in many forms for different people, such as praying or chanting, engaging in guided body relaxation, using mindfulness techniques, or visualisation.

Guided imagery in meditation can create new neural pathways in our brains. Did you know that the brain cannot distinguish between real events and imagined ones? When we imagine ourselves in a beautiful landscape or mastering a new skill for example, our brains release biochemicals (such as endorphins and serotonin) based on our feelings about that situation, making us feel positive and relaxed. Guided visualisation helps the brain to imagine healing and favourable experiences, which can lead to more enhanced real-life coping skills and positive behaviours. Often our minds are busy and overactive, which can lead to feeling stressed and overwhelmed. By taking some time to slow down and practicing meditation, we can eventually transform our minds so that we feel more relaxed, empowered, energised and nourished.

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment and creating a non-judgmental space within ourselves about what we notice. This practice is based on drawing our awareness away from past or future, and observing what is happening right in this moment, with purpose and curiosity. When we practice mindfulness, we are developing the capacity to go inwards and are creating more moments of peace, contentment, and openness to new possibilities. Mindfulness has been shown by research to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression, enhance sleep, strengthen immunity, improve our cognitive abilities, help with difficult emotions, cultivate positive relationships, and improve quality of life. The beauty of mindfulness is that it can be practiced not only while being still, but also while walking, eating, gardening, learning, communicating with other people, and during many other daily activities that we often do 'mindlessly'. In mindfulness, we become a witness to our experiences and ground ourselves in our reality. Activity (in the form of thoughts, emotions, sensations) comes and goes, but we as the observer, remain steady and present. Mindfulness is the stillness in which we find our true selves.

Both meditation and mindfulness practices increase and strengthen positive connections in the brain (between the emotional brain and the thinking brain), promoting neural integration, which helps us to have emotional balance and insight, more attuned communication with others, better soothing strategies for fear and anxiety, and better ability to problem-solve and be creative, thereby enhancing our overall sense of wellness. Research shows that practicing meditation and/or mindfulness for just 10 minutes each day can create these significant changes in our lives.

At Little Window, our psychologists can support clients to learn meditation and/or mindfulness practice so that they are able to incorporate it into their daily wellness routine.

Little Window runs workshops that support meditation and mindfulness techniques. Click here for more information.

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