What comes to mind at the mention of the word “mindfulness”?
For me, I'd instinctively think of people sitting cross-legged and chanting some sort of mantra in pursuit of an inner calm, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Not all forms of meditation involve chanting – in fact, most don’t!
On the contrary, being “mindful” is as simple as being present in one’s current circumstances – where a person observes his or her thoughts and feelings without placing value judgment on them.
Although many consider mindfulness to have its core in Buddhist traditions, it is believed that even before the Buddha's birth, mindfulness was already practiced – for example, in Hindu and Taoist traditions. Nonetheless, mindfulness should not be mistaken as a religious practice or trait – at its core, it is the human capability to remain curious about what is happening in one’s own mind.
There are various ways in which people can practise mindfulness; some people do it through eating clean, but some people seek their center with meditation – a practice which aims to help each and everyone of us to focus and quiet our minds, and this helps us to achieve an inner calm.
Meditation comes from the Latin root “meditatum”, meaning “to ponder”. Practicing meditation does not make one religious; on the contrary, most practitioners of meditation do so for health and well-being benefits.
Practising meditation generally requires the individual to be in a quiet place and sitting upright with good posture. With a quiet and serene environment, you allow your mind to achieve tranquility.
Even amongst the category of meditation itself, it is worth noting that there are various different styles. Broadly speaking, there are three main types of meditation that branch out into the various forms of meditation available.
These are focused-attention meditation, open monitoring meditation, and automatic self-transcending meditation techniques.
Focused attention meditation is usually the starting point for the novice meditator. It involves focusing one's attention on a chosen object or event, usually anything that involves the individual’s use of the senses.
This form of meditation is helpful because it helps the individual regulate attention through building various skills:
Examples of meditation practices that take this form of meditation include Buddhist meditation and some forms of qigong.
In open monitoring meditation, the individual observes his or her thoughts without imposing judgment on them.
This form of meditation can be likened to a wide-lens perspective of consciousness. Open monitoring meditation associates the mind with being an open sky where the individual observes their thoughts – represented by clouds – as they pass along their field of awareness.
Examples of meditation practices that take this form of meditation include some types of Taoist meditation.
A third type of meditation, automatic self-transcending meditation, is designed to rest the mind and body by reducing mental activity. This form of meditation calms the mind.
Additionally, this form of meditation is known to calm the individual's mind – practicing this technique on a regular basis helps the individual develop brain control and hence, he or she is better able to deal with stress.
Nonetheless, it is also worth noting that some techniques might overlap, having elements of more than one category.
How is meditation so great that advocates, who are simply normal people like you and I, give it so much praises? Why should anyone even consider practising meditation?
Well, for one, the benefits of practicing meditation are copious and encompass various aspects of improved health and well-being. These include an increased self-awareness, improved concentration, and reduced levels of stress and anxiety.
In addition, Harvard Medical School neuroscientist Sara Lazar has supported the benefits of meditation with real neuroscience. She stated that the benefits of meditation are not limited to being 'relaxing'. Instead, mindful meditation can be seen as a type of mental training with cognitive benefits as well.
If reading this article has led you to consider meditation but you’re not sure where to start, fear not – there are many apps which offer guided meditation for those new to the practice. For starters, try Headspace, which offers video tutorials teaching you how to meditate. These are led by Andy Puddicombe, Headspace’s co-founder and a former Buddhist monk. Headspace’s lessons are secularized versions of exercises Puddicombe studied.
Headspace is available as an app on both the Apple Store and Google Play.
We, at Nilufer Tea, advocate well-being, both in the physical and psychological sense. This is why we hope to spread the word of mindfulness, because we recognise the stress that the modern life brings. With that, we have formulated various blends organic herbal teas can also help one be more relaxed, calm and at ease.
For a calm and relaxing moment, our Orange & Chamomile blend helps to soothe your mind and rejuvenate your senses.