World Meditation Day 2022 is a day dedicated to supporting people everywhere in the world to have an opportunity to press pause and reboot in life.
What is Mindfulness?
World Meditation Day 2022 is on the 21st of May. If you’re looking for less stress and more calm, meditation is an option. Modern life can feel relentless and stressful. But with the right tools, we all have the potential to be healthier, happier and create internal peace. Here we talk about mindfulness (rather than just formal meditation) and some ideas for incorporating it into your schedule. The practice of mindfulness has been proven to lead to a sense of balance and psychological well-being. But what is it? The definition by Jon Kabat Zin is “mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally”.
Focusing on the present moment, as opposed to the past or future, is a central quality of mindfulness practice. This attention to the present moment without judgement produces a deep shift in how we think and how we experience the world in order to create internal peace. If we are not aware of our direct experience in the present moment, then we are missing out on our lives. The present moment is the only moment in which our life occurs. The term “nonjudgmental” is also of particular importance, because it is the habit we have of judging our experience, telling ourselves it (or we) should or must be different, which sets us up to struggle with our experience.
Why Practice Mindfulness?
Our mind is our most valuable and precious resource, the thing through which we experience every single moment of our life. We rely upon it to be happy, content, emotionally stable as individuals, and at the same time, to be kind and thoughtful and considerate in our relationships with others. And yet, we rarely take any time out to look after it.
This can mean that we are less happy than we might be and because the brain tends to look for threats, can mean we tend to feel more stressed and anxious without even noticing it. Many of us spend much of our time focused either on the past or on the future, paying very little attention to what is happening right now. Becoming aware of how we’re feeling and thinking in the present moment allows us to pause and become more self-aware. It’s also one of the key skills of emotional intelligence.
Modern living has created a world in which we are always on, informationally overloaded and constantly multi-tasking. The sad fact is that we are so distracted that we’re no longer present in the world in which we live. Recent research from Harvard has suggested that we are distracted 47% of the time. Now we’re not here for that long anyway, but to spend almost half of our life lost in thought and potentially quite unhappy…….seems very sad. Additionally, Research has shown that 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. There is a lot we can learn on how we can become more mindful this World Meditation Day 2022 and across the whole year.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
Practising mindfulness helps you increase your awareness of your surroundings and yourself. At VISTA HQ, we are backed by science to ensure we provide our clients with effective activities which increase wellbeing. And, this is the same for World Meditation Day 2022. A lot of people use mindfulness practice to reduce their stress levels and develop a deeper concentration. Moreover, it is also used by a lot of people to create other beneficial feelings and habits, like a positive outlook, healthy sleep patterns, self-discipline, and even better pain tolerance. Mindfulness has been shown to have a wide range of benefits on health and wellbeing and even changes the structure of the brain. These many benefits cannot be given justice here, but if you need some reasons to take up or continue a practice-the research is persuasive!
Mindfulness practice has also been shown to reduce stress, which in itself is strongly associated with disease and has been linked to all the common causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, accidents, anxiety and depression and suicide. Research has shown that mindfulness-based practice interventions can balance levels of the stress hormone cortisol, with a significant reduction in basal cortisol levels compared to normal relaxation. Additionally, the amygdala, the emotional processor responsible for triggering the stress response, is shown to be decreased in size in those practising mindfulness. Essentially, those who practise mindfulness are less likely to be prone to “amygdala hijack” and be so at the mercy of their emotions, which can lead to reductions in mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
The effects are wide-ranging. A comprehensive review looking at Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) programmes in randomised controlled trials across a range of conditions found that they were effective in alleviating symptoms, both mental and physical, in the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, depression, anxiety disorders and in prevention in healthy adults and children.
It also has been shown to improve sleep. Research has shown that mindfulness reduces sleep disturbance and improves sleep quality in cancer patients and it has also shown that mindfulness is effective for sleep disorders such as insomnia. For further ideas on how to improve sleep, please read our blog. It can also slow down brain ageing. A study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged.
We can see that science has shown that formal mindfulness practice changes the brain, but many of us struggle to find the time, especially as we first start to practise. Embedding mindfulness into routine everyday activities is very beneficial and time efficient. Some people choose to practice mindfulness individually, while others gather together in groups to meditate. Whatever you choose to do, World Meditation Day 2022 is a time that can help you strengthen your mindfulness habit.
Ideas for Bringing More Mindful Moments into your Life
- Start a Mindfulness Challenge
This is a great opportunity to learn more about the practice while laying the foundation for a strengthened habit in the future. Whether you simply challenge yourself to do a short practice, or kick off a month long Mindfulness Challenge, World Meditation Day 2022 is a great time to reboot your mindfulness habit. At VISTA we believe developing self-awareness is a fundamental key to wellbeing, and we have 5 minute breathing and awareness exercises to whole Mindfulness programmes to help ourselves and our partners develop this skill.
- Commit to Exercises such as Yoga or Journalling to Boost Mindfulness
Maybe you’re not sure if a formal practice is your thing, or you’re already doing one regularly and want to expand your mindfulness practice. Why not consider adding yoga into the mix to supplement your mindfulness practice. Many experts recommend doing yoga before meditation, if you do both in the same sitting. You might also consider journaling as another way to clear your mind and become more self-aware. It’s one of the simplest ways to track your progress over time, observe changes in how you feel and how you deal with challenging situations, and find ways to improve your experience. Explore what you enjoy and what fits into your lifestyle on World Meditation Day 2022 so you an implement in your life everyday.
- Use a Daily Activity to Create More Mindfulness
When you are having a shower or doing the washing up to tune in to. As you pay attention to all your senses- when you become aware of the mind wandering, caught up in thinking and planning, deliberately bring it back to the moment -‐‑ to the activity, with a fresh sense of curiosity about seeing and sensing whatever you can in the moment. Give this a try this World Meditation Day 2022 and watch your mind and how you feel.
- Make it simple.
At VISTA HQ, we advocate for simple and effective activities which increase your wellbeing. And, this is the same for World Meditation Day 2022. Here are three short practices that you can try almost anywhere – be it on your lunch break or even on the morning commute.
- Body Scan: Placing your feet on the floor, drop your attention into your feet and feel the connection to the ground. With every breath concentrate on one part of the body starting with the toes and working up to the crown of your head. Don’t rush and enjoy the process. Notice any areas of tension and just breathe into them and feel the body relax softly and slowly.
- Tune in: If you’re somewhere busy or noisy such as a train, use the noise and the busyness to your advantage. Take a moment to close your eyes and tune in – feel the vibrations in your feet, the sounds of conversation around you, the noise and clunkiness of the train as it moves. Breathe in and absorb the noise, then let it go, noticing how it passes and changes… tune into the sound of your exhale and the feeling of letting it go.
- Box Breath: Pick a length of breath that feels comfortable for you, (anything around four to seven beats for example). Saying you pick five, then inhale for five, pause for five, exhale for five, pause for five. The trick is to use the mind to imagine that you can visualise the breath following the lines of the box with each count of five. Even a few minutes of this can lower your cortisol, the stress hormone, and make you feel more connected, centred and relaxed.
At VISTA we also believe that nurturing our mind, body, soul and social wellbeing is so important in our lives. Being mindful helps us to touch base with ourselves and ground ourselves in the present moment. Life is busy, and it our job to make sure we create time for ourselves. Our approach is advocated during World Meditation Day 2022 and across the whole year. Employers need to have a joined-up strategy that not only supports mental, physical, and social wellbeing, but also recognises the importance of giving their people time to process, learn and be mindful. When we practice mindfulness our minds and bodies are calmer which leads us to being more productive, less stressed and even more connected to the people around us. World Meditation Day 2022 plays a huge role today and across the whole year.
VISTA offers a personalised wellbeing experience to every individual employee allowing organisations to see real-time wellbeing metrics of their workforce, helping drive proactive wellbeing strategies and for the first time no longer relying on purely reactive measures. If you’d like to learn how VISTA can support you please get in touch.