“Pure awareness transcends thinking. It allows you to step outside the chattering negative self-talk and your reactive impulses and emotions. It allows you to look at the world once again with open eyes. And when you do so, a sense of wonder and quiet contentment begins to reappear in your life” — Mark Williams
Most of us live in our minds and miss out on the present moment and are hardly connected to the world around us, nor centred in our own body or being. Instead, we are preoccupied with memories of the past, thinking about the future and judgments and reactions to the few things we see.
Mindfulness is about bringing awareness – intentionally bringing awareness to the present moment without judgement. Mindfulness meditation can help train and mould our brain to be more mindful. How does that happen, is it even a real thing? Well, according to Scientific American Journal 2014, MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” centre, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain, associated with fear and emotion, is involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress. As the amygdala shrinks, the pre-frontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.
Mindfulness meditation is free and accessible to anyone. Meditation is a practice of gently freeing yourself from the monkey mind, and experience the joy of being fully present. Meditation is beyond thinking. It is a process of giving your full attention to whatever object you have chosen. In mindfulness the anchor of awareness is Breath – allowing yourself to experience your breathing in an open and accepting way, not judging or attempting to control or change it. Opening yourself so fully that eventually there is no distinction between you and the breathing.
Mindfulness Breathing Exercise
· Find a comfortable position either lying on your back or sitting. If you are sitting down, make sure that you keep your back straight and release the tension in your shoulders. Let them drop.
· Close your eyes or gaze to the floor.
· Focus your attention on your breathing. Simply pay attention to what it feels like in your body to slowly breathe in and out.
· Now bring your attention to your belly. Feel your belly rise and expand every time you breathe in. Feel your belly fall every time you breathe out.
· Continue to focus your attention on the full experience of breathing. Immerse yourself completely in this experience. Imagine you are "riding the waves" of your own breathing.
· Anytime that you notice your mind has wandered away from your breath (it likely will and this is completely normal!), simply notice what it was that took your attention away and then gently bring your attention back to the present moment - your breathing.
· Continue as long as you would like!