Written by Mike James, a Mindful content specialist working with Wickwoods Country Club Hotel & Spa.
If all the influential business thinkers and lifestyle gurus are doing it, then surely we should be taking more notice? Big business is taking it seriously so why shouldn’t we? It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the fact that mindfulness and meditation practices can have a positive impact on our health. Big business has grasped the fact that extended working hours are leaving employees frazzled. It makes financial sense for them to improve employee focus, reduce stress and increase productivity. Schools are also following suit with positive results being found in students’ focus and behaviour.
The public are now warming to the idea that meditation and mindfulness have tangible benefits. Get used to it folks, meditation and mindfulness have arrived in mainstream society and they’re here to stay – they are no longer confined to spiritual practices and hippy conventions. Even the NHS are steering their unwieldy ship crammed full of conventional approaches a little left field on this one.
So, if you’ve been pondering the idea of giving it a go, you shouldn’t ignore this calling. Here are six good reasons why.
- Take care of your emotional well-being
We’re pretty good at noticing and dealing with physical complaints, but our capacity to identify changes in our emotional well-being isn’t so easy. Before we know it we’re having negative thoughts, worrying or buying into patterns of behaviour that sabotage our well-being. The good news is there is plenty of evidence to show that regular meditation and mindfulness practice can help. Engaging in a process of emotional awareness lets us know how we are feeling before we’ve taken the wrong path.
- Sleep – getting the right amount of zzzzzzs makes all the difference
We all know that sleep disturbance in any form can leave you feeling lousy. There’s nothing worse than turning up to work feeling like you need to crawl under your desk for a nap. Well the good news is mindfulness meditation evokes a relaxation response and has a positive impact on sleep.
- Feel more positive
It’s becoming increasingly acknowledged that those who practise mindfulness and meditation have a more positive outlook on life. In fact research shows that mindfulness alone can have a significant impact on depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. Thoughts become things. You may have heard of ‘The Secret’ and the law of attraction. The practice of meditation and mindfulness itself doesn’t mean thinking good thoughts, it’s all about connecting with the present moment and understanding the transience of our feelings. It’s this ability to connect with ourselves that brings us to a place of acceptance and a greater sense of intention and direction.
- Improve your physical awareness
Practicing mindfulness and meditation improves our ability to identify emotions and become more aware of tension in the body. Take heed and you can avoid stress settling into those shoulders when you are hunched over the computer keyboard for hours on end. Take it as a cue to get up and walk around for five minutes.
- The health benefits
Meditation is known to have a positive impact on stress and is most known for its benefits in helping depression and anxiety. Clinical research has also demonstrated that meditation practice reduces blood pressure. And there’s more – mindfulness training has been shown to have a positive impact on inflammation in the body, as well as correlating with faster physical recovery from stressful situations. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D has written extensively about the mindfulness solution to chronic pain. The health benefits keep on coming.
- Improve your relationships
According to Melanie Greenberg Ph.D writing in Psychology Today, mindfulness training makes us “more compassionate and better able to stop destructive impulsive behaviour. It can help us resolve conflict”. The Buddhist practice of Meta Bhavana, a meditation cultivating loving kindness towards others, is a method of developing compassion. The good news is you don’t have to be a Buddhist to give it a try. If you fancy cultivating some compassion you might like to give one of these guided meditations a go.