Mindfulness and meditation are both words we are hearing a lot of these days, but they still sound a bit mysterious. What does mindfulness really mean? And isn’t meditation that thing that hippies in tie dye or monks in robes do? When you put the two words together to make the phrase mindfulness meditation it gets even crazier. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Why is trying to learn about meditation stressing me out? I thought meditation was supposed to make me calm. I don’t feel calm. I’m not going to life it all sounds a little overwhelming and out of reach to most of us, but that’s why I’m here to break down a few different types of meditation for you this March through Dame Products’ March Mindful Monday series.
So no need to stress, meditation is simple, but not always easy to practice. Simple, but not easy, because life tends to get in the way and sitting down to meditate can often seem like a luxury rather than a necessity, especially when you feel like you don’t really understand how to meditate. Not to worry though, that’s why I’m here. So let’s start by taking one big deep breath…and exhale…you’re on your way to becoming a meditation master.
This Monday, let’s start with a quick guide to mindfulness of breath meditation.
What is mindfulness of breath meditation?
Mindfulness of breath meditation is an exercise in being present. In today’s world it is difficult to be present to our experience in the moment because we are often distracted by our phones and social media accounts. But our phone’s are not the only culprit, online streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu allow us to escape our daily life, sometimes for hours at a time (I’m a binger, and I know I’m not alone).
Mindfulness of breath is the most basic form of meditation. But what exactly is mindfulness? Mindfulness is simply the practice of placing our object of awareness on something and being mindful of it by giving it our full attention; with this meditation that object becomes our breath. The great thing about the breath is that it is always there when we are alive, so we can continue to come back to it and use it as an anchor in times of stress or distraction.
Mindfulness meditation is NOT about stopping our thinking process, our brain’s are meant to think and asking them to shut off is like asking water to stop being wet. It’s instead a practice of not letting ourselves be carried away by our thoughts, into the natural and endless progression thinking can often lead to. So whenever you find yourself wandering away from your attention on the breath due to a though, acknowledge the thought gently (we are often our own harshest critics), and then come back to the sensation of your breath. Easy? It sounds easy, but it is difficult in practice so remember to be kind to yourself. Breathe…come back to the breath. Breathe…think a thought….come back to the breath. That’s mindfulness meditation in a nutshell for you!
What is the science behind mindfulness of breath meditation?
In a clinical trial, researchers found that patients who practiced mindfulness of breath meditation for twenty minutes a day for 8 weeks, were actually less stressed and anxious than their non-meditating counterparts. How does that work?
When we are stressed our bodies naturally release cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress in the body; this response is triggered in the region of our brain’s known as the amygdala. The amygdala is a primal part of the brain which is responsible for our bodies flight or fight response. 8 weeks of consistent meditating revealed a shrinkage in the amygdala, leading to better control over our bodies stress response, and as a result an overall decrease in stress and anxiety.
But that’s not all, consistent mindfulness of breath meditation actually decreased depression because stress and anxiety are commonly linked to increased risks of depression. And mindfulness meditation increases focus, decreases pain, and is even effective in helping women increase body awareness to improve their bodies response to sexual stimuli.
So in conclusion, mindfulness meditation can do a lot of things, and it’s role in helping with the female orgasm is an area researchers are coming around to. So next time you settle down with a Dame Product, practice a little mindfulness meditation before or during and see how it shifts your experience in the moment.
When is it helpful to do a mindfulness of breath meditation?
As the science states, a daily mindfulness meditation practice can do wonders for our bodies and minds. So after a couple weeks of daily meditation, you may naturally see the benefits in the way you are able to acknowledge when you are thinking in a way that may be inducing stress, and given your mindfulness practice you will know you can come back to the breath in real life too!
So use mindfulness meditation as you want, for me, it’s helpful when I’m feeling down, angry, disappointed, upset about that thing my ex did three years ago, or even when I’m feeling really good and want to be fully present to all the good ~feels~ in and outside of the my bedroom.
Sara Shah is a novelist, freelance writer, and meditation teacher.