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.
There are several perks of being single: opportunities to find your unique voice, time that is completely yours, freedom to explore whatever or whoever you want and a space that only you can fill. However, with the commercialism of Valentine’s Day, it is hard to remember these when walking through a mall bombards you with Valentine’s Day deals and barely covered babies brandishing arrows. It is no secret that society sometimes tends to overemphasise romantic love at the expense of platonic and even self love. These are some things you could do when you feel the commercialised love getting you down. Embrace the time to grow and enjoy singlehood!
You know how before music streaming became a thing, couples used to make mixtapes or burn CDs with meaningful songs for each other? Do that but on your chosen music streaming site and with all the tracks that you love. That’s right, pour yourself a glass of wine (or whichever preferred beverage) and bust out those dance moves. Not only is it great exercise, you can shimmy yourself into confidence and a happier life with more endorphins.
Honestly, my first love is food and if you are the same, then this might be the way to go. Treat yourself to buying from your favourite place; never mind about the calories for this one day. Alternatively you could make/bake your favourite dish as well!
There is something exciting about being able to call the shots. You pick the movie without judgement, the snacks without catering to anyone else and the toilet breaks. You can freely weep or laugh without fear of disturbing anyone else. My choice for the occasion is Pacific Rim. There’s a story with enough meat to get into but also is balanced with robots and monsters punching each other.
I can sense the scepticism so let me tell you why this is perfect for hanging out alone on Valentine’s Day. First of all, parks are very relaxing places – pick a place with ample shade and a breeze blowing – and in the midst of nature you can be sure to be energised. Plus in parks you’ll be mercifully free from Valentine’s Day hype. Add a great book to that and it sounds like a dream come true. I recommend detective stories like Agatha Christie’s Destination Unknown or if you would rather be exposed to more than your experience of life I suggest essay collections by people who are different from yourself. I’m reading Scaachi Koul’s One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter which is a lot less sombre than the title will have you expect.
Singapore has great exhibitions going on right now. If you want to feel inspired in your own life with the ideas that people have and decided to explore, then this may be something you should think about doing. If spending an afternoon or evening with the works of painting masters is something that excites you then you should definitely check out Century of Light at the National Gallery.
This could be anything! Write something or draw. Take a class in water colour painting, batik printing or stamp making. Freeing your mind from the routine and dabbling in something you have never done before will help to enhance your creativity.
Romantic love is very hyped up this time of year but you know what else important for life? Platonic love. Friends are always there to pick you back up if you fall. Have a friend you have wanted to call and check in with for ages? Now is the time. Not only would a reconnection make you feel good, your friend will probably be happier too.
Taking care of your body and mind is important. What better way to do both as you flow from one pose to another. Take a class, follow along with a YouTube video or even go to a beach to practice.
A little more on the practical side here but Chinese New Year is right around the corner. If you do not finish the tasks your parents, grandparents, or you yourself assigned at some point you can expect a lot of nagging. So save yourself the headache and finish it tonight.
That’s right, if you feel like now is the time then let her/him know how you feel. Who knows? Maybe the pre-packed Valentine’s Day magic will increase your chances on a date with the person you have been eyeing for weeks now. If you want to see other people attempt to ask their crushes out to fortify yourself, check out the #ValentinesDayChallenge hashtag on Twitter.
Now go forth and make your Valentine’s Day special for yourself!
Written by: Annmaria Patteri