Today I want to discuss the benefits of mindfulness and how by doing something as little as sitting in silence for even 5 minutes a day, you can start to reap the wonderful and life affirming benefits.
Last summer I went to a weekend retreat at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. During that weekend I went to a meditation class in a lovely little temple deep in the woods. There were about 20 people in the class and the instructor was a young female Buddhist monk. She had a shaved head and wore a long robe.
The monk gave simple little pointers on sitting and showed us how to focus on our breath. Then she lit some incense and we began. We basically just sat on cushions for 20 minutes in total silence. I have never sat in any room with total strangers for that long in complete silence It was weird and cool at the same time 🙂
At the end of the 20 minutes she sounded a little bell. Then she had us follow her. We stepped outside and did a slow and silent walking meditation around the gardens and ponds surrounding the temple. That class was a surreal experience and felt sublimely peaceful. When I left I felt like I was floating.
After I got home I researched the benefits of mindfulness and couldn’t believe what I read. It is just so good for your body, mind and spirit. It kind of blew me away, almost sounding too good to be true. More on that below…
Since I loved how I felt in that class, I decided to start my own daily meditation practice. I sit on 2 pillows in silence for 5 – 10 minutes (sometimes longer, if my schedule allows). In the summer and fall I enjoyed sitting outside in my backyard. Once it got too cold, I moved into my living room in front of a window. That’s it. I do this 4-5 days a week.
This little practice has helped me tremendously and I love how nice I feel today.
Like I said, I looked through some research articles (listed below) and here are some of the proven benefits of mindfulness that you can gain through a simple meditation practice like mine. Since most of these things have come into my life since last summer, I hope you don’t mind that I added in my own comments here and there 🙂 :
1. You have more time to get things done.
2. The quality of your interactions with others improve- whether this is family or strangers.
3. Anxiety lessens. And if it does come now, I find I deal with it better.
4. You worry less. I am sleeping better because of this.
5. You become better at regulating your emotions. For example, I am learning to recognize when I am feeling angry or overwhelmed, and not acting out that negativity by taking it out on my husband or my coworkers.
6. You ruminate less. Again, and my sleep has improved. I used to take sleep aids pretty regularly, no more thank God.
7. Your attention span improves.
8. Depression lessens. No more depression medication, thank you very much 🙂
9. You don’t look for happiness outside yourself. What a relief!
10. You become less reactive. Have learned that I can actually stop picking fights with my husband
11. You become kinder. I have always wished to be a kinder person. Now I think I am, and it feels genuine.
12. Eating becomes enjoyable. And, I am finding it becomes *a choice* to mindlessly stuff myself or overeat into dullness. I really don’t just do it automatically anymore.
13. You become more appreciative of little things. I can experience real joy just eating an apple or sitting quietly on the front porch with my dog 🙂
14. Strengthens your immune system. I recently had a fever and it only lasted a few hours, no lie.
15. Improves your sense of well-being.
16. You become less distracted.
17. Promotes empathy.
18. Increased self – compassion.
19. Have less emotional exhaustion.
20. More job satisfaction.
21. Lessens automatic negative responses.
22. You become more emotionally stable. Thank you Lord 🙂
23. Promotes calmness. Have you ever seen a stressed out monk? 😀
24. Perform better at work and at school.
25. Life gets easier. Amen. 🙂
I am so so grateful to have found mindfulness. “Found” is probably the wrong word I guess. It’s really just focused attention – something I never really did for most of my life, until I was shown how.
On a very basic level what it boils down to for me is that my thoughts no longer control my mind and life. I have always struggled with feelings of racing thoughts and this is the balm that has allowed me to heal.
Sitting in meditation for just 5 or 10 minutes a day has quite literally given me a peace and joy of being that I never knew was available to someone as “messed up” as me 🙂
Wising you much success in your mindfulness practice,
PS. Have you ever wanted to learn to meditate but thought it would be too complicated or too hard to understand and get into? Here is a nifty free meditation starter kit from SubSines that can get you started in just minutes. Learn more here.
Thank you for reading!
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