When I began energie management, most people I talked to about it would stare at me blankly, then quickly change the subject or shake their head and walk away. These days, discussions of meditation and mindfulness appear everywhere from business and medical journals, to addiction and trauma recovery groups, to education conferences. In this article, you’ll learn why so many are turning to these techniques and how to avoid common misconceptions, dangers, and potential pitfalls.
By recent reports, you might think meditation and mindfulness are a “panacea” (cure all) for everything that ails you. Programs are sprouting up in hospitals for pain management, in prisons for inmate reform, and in military, police, and emergency response settings to help handle intense situations and recover from PTSD.
These techniques are used as a support in energiemanagement -for addiction and trauma recovery, defusing self-sabotage, increasing self-awareness, and taming self-criticism. They are increasingly sought after for dealing with the stress of living in our fast-paced, threat-sensitive world. To feed this demand, countless apps promise to bestow the benefits of these practices at the push of a button.
Yet, with the rise in popularity of mindfulness and meditation, I’ve begun to see some contrarian headlines, such as “New Study Shows Meditation Doesn’t Make You Happier, More Creative,” “Meditation Not a Panacea,” or “Christians Should Be Wary of Meditation.”
As a meditation teacher, I hear beginning students say things like:
• “Meditation was supposed to be relaxing-but it made me irritated.”
• “Meditation was supposed to feel good, but it made me more stressed out.”
• “I thought meditation would help me sleep, but it gave me nightmares.”
• “I thought meditation was supposed to help me accept myself, but it made me more self-critical.”
• “I am more aware of my impulsiveness than ever. How is this helping me?”
What’s going on here?
(Hint: Meditation doesn’t “make these things happen.” It reveals them. Meditation and mindfulness make you more aware of what’s happening in your subconscious mind.)
Let’s demystify meditation and mindfulness by defining them clearly, so you can assess their function and effectiveness, understand misconceptions, and avoid dangers and potential pitfalls.
Meditation and Mindfulness Defined
By meditation I mean, “Mindfully focusing your attention on a specific focal object for a period of time.” It’s about training your mind to consciously focus your attention. It’s that straightforward.
A focal object in meditation can be the sensations of breathing, a mantra or focusing phrase, the stream of your thoughts and feelings, the presence of God, a blank wall, or a candle flame. Focusing on chosen focal objects develops your ability to pay attention, be present, and fully engage with what you are doing.
“Mindfully” in the definition means that you exercise “mindfulness” during meditation. Mindfulness means, “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment.” In other words, you adopt the attitude of a curious observer, just noticing what is happening without judging it as “good or bad.” A non-judgmental attitude enables you to see more clearly, instead of reacting from fear, bias, or prejudice-which distort insight.
To sum up, “meditation” is an attention-training technique and “mindfulness” is an effective attitude for practicing this technique. You could also say that meditation is an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Together, meditation and mindfulness give you a deeper understanding of how your mind works.
Here’s how it goes in practice:
As you stress management on a specific focal object, you notice moments when your mind wanders off to other things-such as an argument you had yesterday, a childhood memory, a presentation you have later today, or what you might have for lunch. Mindfulness enables you to recognize when and where your mind wanders, accept this as something a busy mind does, and gently return your attention to your chosen focal object.
During meditation, you will have a whole host of different thoughts and feelings. Some may feel good: some may scare you. https://www.bloombay.eu/ treats them all the same-as passing bits of information. Using mindfulness, you come to realize that all thoughts and feelings come and go. They offer information, but they are no more substantial than that. They are nothing to be afraid of when you approach them mindfully. This insight can free you from anxiety about what is going on inside you.