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Mindfulness and Meditation

In the last lesson, you learned how to identify pockets of time or how to make time within your schedule, just 10 minutes a day, to work in some daily stress relief.

Now let's cover some new techniques that are closely intertwined, mindfulness and meditation.

I imagine that you've heard of these techniques. Maybe you've even practiced one, if not both of these. Though the two are closely related, in fact, mindfulness is considered a form of meditation, they do serve different purposes.

First, let's discuss why you need to practice mindfulness and/or meditation:

We are going to society, especially in this technology era. In fact, I would argue that we, as a society, have almost lost the ability to relax in general.

Gone are the days where you can walk away from the phone. Disconnect. Essentially be "unreachable". That's not to say there aren't times where that CAN'T happen, but these days, people expect to be able to reach you at any given hour of the day.

Did you get a new email? Better answer it! Is someone calling you for work even though you are on vacation? How dare you let it go to voicemail or at the very least not call back!

Yes, it can be very difficult to unwind these days. But when you are always go, go, go, you are bound to get stressed. You simply aren't designed to be "on" all of the time.

And this mentality in and of itself causes Stress, which then leads to chronic stress, which then leads to inflammation, leading to chronic inflammation, and finally leading into a chronic disease.

If you don't have time to destress, then you definitely don't have time for a chronic illness. So why not take some time to stop the process BEFORE it starts.

Taking a beat, or a break gives you just a few minutes a day to check in with yourself.

And without this, everything builds up until you explode. It's not a matter of if really. It's a matter of when.

That is why you need to make stress relief a daily habit, the benefit far outweighs the minimal amount of time you spend doing it.

Before you know it, the clouds will lift, your shoulders will relax, and you'll be able to be more present, happier, healthier and enjoying those moments in life that you should be enjoying.

Breathing techniques aren't enough. They are extremely important, but you need to have a variety of techniques to rely on for those times when one just isn't doing the trick for you.

So let's define what mindfulness is and what is meditation. But before I do, let me just apologize in advance as I am likely to mispronounce some of these.

As I mentioned before, mindfulness is actually a form of meditation. In fact, mindfulness meditation comes from several types of meditation stemming from the Buddhist types of Vipassana, Zazen, and Thich Nhat Hanh, which is a type of Vietnamese Zen Buddhism.

Mindfulness is a core skill taught in programs like DBT, dialectical behavioral therapy, which is where I learned it.

The reason it is used in and is essential to DBT is because it teaches you how to observe and experience reality as it is, to be less judgmental, and to live in the moment with effectiveness.

I consider mindfulness to be "meditation light" or meditation on a smaller scale. Just a couple of minutes of mindfulness a day can help you to re-center your thoughts and feelings. But I do recommend a target of at least 3 minutes a day of mindfulness.

Then we have meditation. Meditation normally takes a little longer time to practice, anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes seems to be the most common, but you can go longer if you'd like.

Meditation is a mental exercise that involves relaxation, focus, and awareness, focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity.

The goal is to train your attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear, emotionally calm, and stable state.

Meditation is to the mind what physical exercise is to the body.

The practice is usually done individually, in a still seated position, and with eyes closed. That being said, I find that laying down is what works best for me.

Really you just need to find a comfortable position that is away from distraction for the practice of both mindfulness and meditation.

YOUR TASK: think about how much time you would like to dedicate to mindfulness and meditation. Do you want to focus on practicing both over time? Or would you prefer one to the other?

You do not need to decide this now but what you want to consider is what your goals are with this practice. Aside from stress relief, is your goal to observe and experience reality as it is and live in the moment, which is the goal of mindfulness? Or is it more for the achievement of mental clarity, emotionally calm, and stable state, which is the goal of meditation?

In the next lesson, you will learn some of the additional benefits of meditation, and we'll get into some of the many types of meditation.

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Written by

Kristin Nicole