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Mindfulness and Mental Health


Mindfulness meditation has been used in mental health treatment for some time now and there is plenty of research to support its benefits. But you needn’t suffer from a mental illness or spend time reading the research to gain all of its benefits. Everyone who practices mindfulness meditation gets a lot out of it, as people have for over two thousand years, since it was first taught by Buddha. That is why people continue to practice it every day. 


It is hard at first to understand, “how and why” something as simple as experiencing the moment, no matter what is going on, fixes so many things in our life, but it is less complicated and more helpful than we imagine. 


Let's take one example: stress. Everyone experiences stress, and everyone expects to keep on experiencing it. But, how we experience stress makes all the difference in the world when it comes to how it effects our health and happiness. 


With regular mindfulness practice we learn to experience stress as “this moment only.” In other words, when we experience something stressful we feel the stress but we don’t complicate it, and make it more stressful by adding a storyline to it: “I am so-and-so and all this is so unfair” or whatever storyline ( add your own ) we happen to come up with at the time. We simply experience one stressful moment at a time. We don’t even need to understand it. We simply need to experience it. Understanding comes from our experience but it is secondary. 


Suggested Mindfulness Practice:


Sit for five minutes each day and experience your breath as you inhale and exhale. You may close your eyes if it helps you feel your breath. Notice how you inhale without any effort. Feel your inhalation at the point of contact inside your nostrils. Each breath feels unique. Feel your exhalation at the point of contact inside your nostrils. As your exhalation is fully expelled notice the pause. For one brief moment your breath is still. So are your thoughts. Follow your in-breath all the way into your body: through your nose, into your chest, down into your stomach, ending somewhere below your navel. Notice the pause. For one brief moment your breath is still. So are your thoughts. Throughout your week notice whether you are actually experiencing the moment, no matter what is going on, or experiencing your private storyline of the events. 


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