Meditation is a slow and steady practice that can help us to cultivate peace, clarity, happiness, self-awareness and a state of mindfulness. By focusing solely on breathing we can become aware of how our minds wander, and get better at snapping out of distractions.
Thoughts are quite powerful, they make us feel various feelings and emotions. Happiness and sadness, and love and hatred can all be strongly influenced by our thoughts. While it's not wrong to feel these emotions, it can be quite harmful to get lost in thoughts that increase suffering. For a month, I thought about and researched the most important parts of our day. The list included almost a dozen items, which were then reduced to three - just three - the morning time, meal time and working time.
Bath, Breakfast and Breathing
During the fall of 2019, we had our annual examinations. Our last paper was physics. It's one of my favourite subjects. So it was pretty obvious to me that I was going to do great in the test, and make my teachers and parents proud. In fact, I didn't. The test actually went pretty badly.
I remember the tension while solving equations. At the end of the day, after successfully messing up my test, I thought back over my day. In the morning, certain disturbing memories had resurfaced in my mind and soon I had become lost in them.
The way we spend our time in the morning can largely affect our mood during the day. Everyone wishes to have a great mood throughout the day, however, stressful thoughts and negative emotions can haunt us and ruin our morning mood. In this era of technology, we tend to spend a lot of time using our smartphones and scrolling through social media – even before we are out of bed, this can make our thinking clouded and dull our decision-making capacities.
Meditation shrinks the part of the brain called the amygdala that is responsible for fear, anxiety and stress while increasing the size of the prefrontal cortex - which controls conscious behaviour. Thus, we can become more mindful of our conscious behavior with the help of morning meditation. This can give us clarity of thought and decision-making needed for the day ahead.
The simplest and most convenient way we can perform morning meditation is simply by finding a comfortable place and performing simple breathing exercises. It is quite natural to sink into random thoughts - those unanswered emails, the assignment, a past memory or a future dream. Simply watch these thoughts without judgement. Observe and let them go without getting attached to them. This is mindful meditation.
Don't be disheartened if you are unable to focus for a long time. The key lies in consistency, not in intensity. Someday you will join the ranks of the master meditators. Remember, 'Bath, Breakfast and Breathing.'
Learn more about mindfulness and meditation using Medito, the 100% free meditation app.
Mindfulness at Mealtime
Let's do a simple activity.
Try remembering the last meal you had, did it have ginger in it ? - How much salt did it have? How many green vegetables were served alongside? Unfortunately, most of us don't remember such details (I am guilty of that too!).
What is mindfulness while eating?
Mindfulness while eating is simply being aware of what you are consuming, how it will affect our body and the way our mind and body feels while or after consuming a meal.
Most of us are attached to our hectic 21st Century lifestyles largely ignoring the health-related drawbacks of such a swift lifestyle. With the rise of fast food giants, we are getting more and more accustomed to fast foods.
So what can you do to be mindful while eating? Take a deep breath and become aware of where you are right now, and what you have ordered. Be mindful of every bite you take. Be aware of the taste, texture and smell of the meal. Feel the flavour of every ingredient used. As thoughts arise –- and they will –- acknowledge them and let them go.
Being mindful of your eating will provide you with great clarity about your food habits and their effects on your body and mind. Mindfulness while eating ensures that you are making healthy choices and not buying out of impulse. This approach will keep your weight in check and could also reward you with longer life expectancy, all the while, furthering your practice of mindfulness.
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."
~ Steve Jobs
Our work fills a large part of our life. Work not only sees us as a sense of purpose but also gives us a house to live in and pays our bills. And thus it becomes very important to perform well at work. Let's hear another small anecdote from my school life.
One rainy afternoon, while teaching, our history teacher had called out a few students who were gazing at a sports car nearby, saying they were 'physically present, but mentally absent'. Being mentally as well as physically present is really important.
So how can we be mentally present during work? The answer lies in knowing what you are doing.
Be in the moment of what you are doing. If you love your work, you will most certainly agree that quality leads to quantity. Be a single tasker. Multi-tasking is counterintuitive, as opposed to the popular belief that multitasking increases the amount of work, Research has shown that this might not be true.
There’s evidence showing the direct correlation between our breathing and our stress level. You can try it out yourself right at this moment. Take a deep breath, hold it for a few moments and exhale. That's it. Take a few more and it will work magic to declutter your mind of tasks, assignments and presentations. We can also use the 4-7-8 breathing technique for better results.
A study showed that people who were treated kindly at work repaid it by being 278% more generous to coworkers compared to a control group. Practicing kindness and compassion to yourself and extending it to others can also be the key to mindfulness. It is very important to have control over these tendencies which can be achieved by mindfulness at work.
The power of meditation practice doesn't just lie in individual sessions, but also in the collective practice of various sessions stretching over a period of days, months and even years. Try meditating for 10 minutes daily, if you miss a session or two, don't be hard on yourself.
Following the three practices above will most certainly have a positive impact on your life, since these are a few of the most important, though often ignored parts of life.
Start your mindfulness journey today, with Medito, the 100% free meditation app.