Mindfulness Training Support is a resource for people who want to begin cultivating mindful awareness. Regular practice is the best way to develop an ongoing capacity for mindfulness. Set aside a little time to read the materials, do the exercises and practice the meditations using the recordings and follow along as best you can. Cultivating mindfulness is a process. And a worthwhile investment.
MINDFULNESS MEDITATION PRACTICE
Mindfulness meditation practice, which involves sitting quietly and paying attention to breath and body and mind non judgmentally has many proven benefits. It is best to begin with an open mind and practice at a time when you will likely not be disturbed for a little while. Please check out the 10 minute or 20 minute sitting Awareness of Breath Meditation recordings below. Repetition beats out duration to help establish a habit of meditating. Be kind to yourself and give it a try without any judgement. You can also scroll down to read some brief articles on some of the compelling research supporting the benefits of Mindfulness Meditation. But remember, concepts and practice are two different things. You must practice to reap the rewards!
The following audio tracks are from a CD of short guided meditations that are very helpful in supporting your cultivation of mindfulness practice.
Guided Mindfulness Meditation Recordings
When practicing with any of the meditations, please remember that there is no “special state” to achieve. And mind wandering and being impatient or distracted are totally normal experiences while doing these practices. When we notice this is happening we acknowledge the distraction and just return our attention to following the meditation recording without any Judgement – if possible. The judging is also natural It’s all part of the process. Just notice whatever is arising and return your attention to your chosen point of awareness when you notice your focus has wandered.
Working with Mindfulness Meditation:
Your mind can tend to wander when working anywhere, but especially from home, where distraction and family may be just a room away. A study from the University of Waterloo found that 10 minutes of daily mindful meditation helps keep your mind on track and is particularly effective for people who have repetitive, anxious thoughts.
For the experiment, 82 participants performed a task on a computer. The researchers then presented interruptions to gauge their ability to stay focused. Participants were split into an experiment and control group: The former was asked to engage in a short meditation exercise prior to being reassessed and the latter was given an audio story to listen to.
“Our results indicate that mindfulness training may have protective effects on mind wandering for anxious individuals,” said Mengran Xu, a researcher at Waterloo. “We also found that meditation practice appears to help anxious people to shift their attention from their own internal worries to the present-moment external world, which enables better focus on a task at hand.”
Mindfulness Benefits: – Neuroimaging on benefits of Awareness of Breath Meditation
Meditation is nothing new: It has been practiced around the world for millennia. Up until recently however, scientific understanding of how meditation changes the body was lacking. Some studies now indicate that meditation can physically change the brain and body, and can support mental and physical health in a variety of ways from reducing blood pressure, to lowering symptoms of anxiety and depression, and insomnia.
But it’s perhaps the changes to the brain that meditation can induce that are the most striking.
In 2011, neuroimaging researchers found evidence that eight-weeks of engaging in an average of 27 minutes a day of meditation results in differences in the brain. The study included two groups of people who had never meditated. One group continued to not meditate, while the other was put into a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness.
Magnetic resonance (MR) images were taken of the brain structure of the 16 participants two weeks before and two weeks after they took part in the program, which included meditation that focused on non-judgemental awareness of sensations, feelings, and the state of their mind. These brain scans revealed that the group that meditated, compared to the group that did not, had increased gray-matter density in the brain’s hippocampus and decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala.
Interestingly, the amygdala interacts with the body’s “fight-or-flight” response while the hippocampus is involved with introspection, learning, and memory. Amishi Jha, a neuroscientist who was not a part of this study, told the Harvard Gazette that these results shed “light on the mechanism of action of mindfulness-based training,” showing that stress can not only be reduced after eight weeks of this training but also that training corresponds to structural changes in the brain.
Other work by the same research team has also found that meditation causes 50-year old meditators to have the same amount of gray matter as 25-year olds. And while other researchers are careful to say that meditation isn’t a magic pill, it does seem to have significant benefits.
Mindfulness of Everyday Activities
Pay intentional attention to small regular tasks around home and work. Making tea or coffee, cleaning, showering, cooking, eating without multi tasking or viewing / reading print or electronic media, interactions with others whether online or in person. Pick a few areas where you want to really focus your intentional attention. This helps us build more mindful habits. Let go of any judgement anytime you notice the attention has wandered. It’s not a contest!