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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

I’ve Tried Mindfulness Meditation, Here’s Why You Should Try it Too

I’ve Tried Mindfulness Meditation, Here’s Why You Should Try it Too

In our fast-paced society today, we seem to be in a constant struggle to keep up. While the advancement of technology has its benefits, we are now being constantly bombarded with information and feel pressured to connect and respond all the time. As a result, we often feel stressed, overwhelmed, and in a constant state of anxiety.

Maintaining such a frenetic lifestyle is clearly unsustainable for our physical and emotional health. Yet, despite this, we continue to pound at a furious pace to get ahead.

If this describes you and what you are going through, it is time to take a pause and give some attention to the present moment. When we do that we focus at where we are,we tend to gain a better perspective of what we are doing, and enjoy doing it more.

Practicing mindfulness in our daily lives has a lot of benefits. Studies have shown that it improves many facets of our physical and emotional well-being, such as reducing stress, improving learning, memory, emotional regulation, and empathy.

What is Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness is the psychological process of being fully present in the moment.

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When we are being mindful, we are not caught up in our thoughts about the past, the future, or reacting to the things that are happening around us. We become fully aware of what we are directly experiencing in the moment through our senses, and our state of mind through our thoughts and feelings.

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    In order to be mindful, we need to first acknowledge our thoughts without judging them

    Practicing mindfulness does not mean that we are actively trying to stop thinking. It involves noting and accepting our thoughts and feelings as it is – without judging them or trying to change them. For example, if we are feeling irritated with our friend that he or she is late, we note these feelings of irritation and then let it be. We do not ‘judge’ these feelings as right or wrong, or react based on these feelings by behaving angrily.

    Believe it or not, being mindful is a basic human ability

    This ability to be fully present is something that we all naturally possess. It is easier to be fully in the moment when we are doing something that we enjoy, such as when we are listening to music or watching a movie. However, we tend to get caught up in the default mode of worrying, reacting, and feeling overwhelmed when we are in the day to day.

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    Mindfulness meditation is the perfect way to cultivate mindfulness

    In order to get away from all the distractions and regain mindfulness,we need to intentionally set aside time to practice being fully present in the moment. Mindfulness meditation is the formal practice of mindfulness. The intention of practice is to help us regain stillness and mindfulness in places where there is no distraction. The more we practice, we will become better at intentionally being mindful when we are going through our day to day life.

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      My Story on Mindfulness Meditation and How it has Changed My Life

      After hearing so much about the benefits of mindfulness meditation, I decided to give it a try. After all, a number of very remarkable individuals (i.e. Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Ariana Huffington and Lebron James) have all incorporated meditation as an essential part of their daily routine. I was intrigued, and very curious about what mindfulness meditation can do for me.

      My first few attempts at meditation were frustrating. Given that I had read so much about its wonderful benefits, I initially expected to feel different immediately. I had concerns that I was not doing it correctly, and did not know what exactly to expect. It took a lot of perseverance and willpower to continue making it a daily practice, since I could not see any positive benefits right away.

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      The first time I noticed that my meditation practice had any impact on my life was when I was stuck in traffic and running late for a work meeting. Normally, I would have gotten quite frustrated and irritable, even though it was technically my fault for leaving house late.

      To my surprise, I kept my calm throughout the ride. I was aware that being irritated and frustrated would not help the situation. Hence, I consciously made the decision to focus on being in the present moment, and had a enjoyable conversation with the Uber driver. I gradually started noticing the same pattern when I was faced with other unpleasant experiences. I had become better at managing my negative emotions, and it has also helped me greatly in managing my anxiety in my day to day life.

      Mindfulness meditation is something that gets easier with practice. Every time we meditate, we build new neural pathways in our brain that helps us process our thoughts and emotions better.

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        If you are new to mindfulness meditation, here are some of the tips that helped me through my practice

        Technology can help you become more mindful too

        If you are new to mindfulness meditation, using a guided meditation app such as Headspace, Breathe, or Calm, is a good way to start. Headspace offers a free 10-day guided meditation program for beginners, which gives you a really good introduction to what mindfulness and mindfulness meditation is.

        Don’t obsess over doing it ‘correctly’

        As a beginner, you may have some concerns about what the right way to meditate is. Meditation is a highly personal practice, and there is no ‘correct’ way of doing it. Take your time to find out what seating or lying postures work best for you, and your ideal environment and time of the day for meditating.

        Feel it until you make it

        It is okay if you do not know what to expect, or if your experience of meditation is different from mine. You may also experience a different impact of meditation on your life. What is most important is that you return to the practice day after day, whether you had a positive session or not.

        Have you ever tried mindfulness meditation? If you have, share with us how has it impacted your life?

        More by this author

        Sophia Goh

        Professional Counsellor and Psychotherapist, M.A. Counselling

        I’ve Tried Mindfulness Meditation, Here’s Why You Should Try it Too

        Trending in Mental Wellness

        1 How To Recognize the Most Common Types of Mental Illness 2 How To Better Prepare Yourself Mentally For the Life After COVID-19 3 How To Get Over Anxiety: 5 Professional Tips 4 6 Health Benefits of Meditation (Backed By Science) 5 How to Clear Your Mind and Be More Present Instantly

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        Published on May 25, 2021

        How To Recognize the Most Common Types of Mental Illness

        How To Recognize the Most Common Types of Mental Illness

        Have you ever had chills, a stuffy nose, a sore throat, a cough, or perhaps even a fever? More than likely you must have experienced at least some of these symptoms at one time or another in your life. You knew that you were sick, perhaps with a common cold, maybe the flu, or possibly a viral infection of some sort.

        Either way, no matter what the diagnosis might have been at the time, you didn’t feel well, and therefore, you probably took some form of action to help alleviate the symptoms so that you could feel better, perhaps some medicine, followed up with maybe a little chicken noodle soup, a glass of orange juice, and some bed rest. Nevertheless, when it comes to seeking treatment for symptoms of mental illness, there seems to be a big difference between the way that we look at healing the body and the mind.

        First of all, there are some common stigmas associated with mental illness. People, in general, seem to have a hard time admitting that they are having a problem with their mental health.[1]

        We all want our social media profiles to look amazing, filled with images of exotic vacations, fancy food, the latest fashion, and of course, plenty of smiling faces taken at just the right angle. There is an almost instinctive aversion to sharing our true feelings or emotionally opening up to others, especially when we are going through a difficult time in our lives. Perhaps it has something to do with the fear of being emotionally vulnerable, open, and completely honest about our true inner feelings—perhaps we just don’t want to be a burden.

        Additionally, throughout history, many people with mental illness have been ostracized and subjugated as outcasts. As a result, some may choose to avoid seeking help as long as possible to elude being ridiculed by others or presumably looked down upon in some way. Furthermore, rather than scheduling an appointment to meet with a board-certified psychiatrist, many people find themselves self-medicating with mood-altering substances, such as drugs and alcohol to try and cope with their symptoms.[2]

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        We all want to have a sound mind and body with the ability to function independently without having to depend on anyone—or, for that matter, anything else for help. Nevertheless, if you are experiencing symptoms of mental illness, you may just have to find the will and the way to reach out for help before the symptoms become unmanageable.

        Lastly, although we may all have the ability to gain insight into any given situation, it’s almost impossible to maintain a completely objective point of view when it comes to identifying the depth and dimension of any of our own symptoms of mental illness given the fact that our perception of the problem may in fact be clouded by the very nature of the underlying illness itself. In other words, even though symptoms of mental illness may be present, you may be suffering from a disorder that actually impairs your ability to see them.

        As a professional dual-diagnosis interventionist and a licensed psychotherapist with over two decades of experience working with people all over the world battling symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse—combined with my own personal insight into the subject, perhaps now more than ever—I am confident that you will appreciate learning how to recognize a variety of symptoms associated with some of the most common types of mental illness.

        1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

        Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by persistent flashbacks and nightmares associated with previously experienced or witnessed life-threatening or traumatic events.[3] The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

        Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

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        • recurrent and unwanted memories of an event
        • flashbacks to the event in “real-time”
        • nightmares involving the trauma
        • a physical reaction to an event that triggers traumatic memories
        • avoiding conversation related to the traumatic event
        • active avoidance of people, places, and things that trigger thoughts of the event
        • a sense of hopelessness
        • memory loss related to traumatic events
        • detached relationships
        • lack of interest in normal daily activities
        • feeling constantly guarded
        • feeling as if in constant danger
        • poor concentration
        • irritability
        • being easily startled
        • insomnia
        • substance abuse
        • engaging in dangerous behaviors

        2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

        Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by persistent unwanted thoughts followed by urges to act on those thoughts repeatedly.[4] The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

        Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

        • anxiety when an item is not in order or its correct position
        • recurrent and frequent doubt if doors have been locked
        • recurrent and frequent doubt if electronic devices and appliances have been turned off
        • recurrent and frequent fear of contamination by disease or poison
        • avoidance of social engagements with fear of touching others.
        • hand-washing
        • counting
        • checking
        • repetition of statements
        • positioning of items in strict order

        3. Major Depressive Disorder

        Major Depressive Disorder is a mood disorder characterized by a persistent depressed mood that impairs the ability to function. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

        Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

        • overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and sadness
        • lack of interest or pleasure in activities normally enjoyed
        • overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and guilt
        • sleep disturbances such as both insomnia and oversleep
        • overwhelming feelings of restlessness and irritability
        • lack of concentration
        • lack of appetite as well as overeating
        • thoughts of suicide

        4. Bipolar Disorder

        Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder that may be characterized by uncontrollable mood swings ranging from severe depression to extreme mania. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

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        Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

        • easily distracted
        • racing thoughts
        • exaggerated euphoric sense of self-confidence
        • easily agitated
        • hyperverbal
        • markedly increased level of activity
        • overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and sadness
        • lack of interest or pleasure in activities normally enjoyed
        • overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and guilt
        • sleep disturbances such as both insomnia and oversleep
        • overwhelming feelings of restlessness and irritability
        • lack of concentration
        • lack of appetite as well as overeating
        • thoughts of suicide

        5. Schizophrenia

        Schizophrenia is a thought disorder characterized by a breakdown between beliefs, emotions, and behaviors caused by delusions and hallucinations.[5]  The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

        Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

        • delusions with false beliefs
        • hallucinations with a false sensory perception
        • disorganized thought with a meaningless unintelligible pattern of communication
        • disorganized behavior with catatonic appearance, bizarre posture, excessive agitation
        • flat affect
        • lack of eye contact
        • poor personal hygiene

        6. Anorexia Nervosa

        Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat and excessive exercise. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

        Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

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        • extreme loss of weight
        • emaciated appearance
        • eroded teeth
        • thinning hair
        • dizziness
        • swollen extremities
        • dehydration
        • arrhythmia
        • irritated skin on knuckles
        • extreme food restriction
        • excessive exercise
        • self-induced vomiting
        • excessive fear of gaining weight
        • use of layered clothing to cover up body imperfections

        7. Bulimia Nervosa

        Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight due to a distorted body image where large amounts of food are consumed and then purged. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

        Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

        • self-induced vomiting
        • consuming abnormally large amounts of food with the intent to purge
        • the constant fear of gaining weight
        • excessive exercising
        • excessive use of laxatives and diuretics to lose weight
        • food restriction
        • shame and guilt

        Final Thoughts

        From bipolar disorder to bulimia, major depression to dysthymia, there is a mental health diagnosis to fit any combination of symptoms that you may be experiencing. There are also a variety of corresponding self-assessment tests circulating all over the internet for you to choose from.

        However, if you are looking for a proper diagnosis, I strongly suggest that you make an appointment to meet with a well-trained mental health professional in your community for more comprehensive and conclusive findings. Similar to cancer, early detection and treatment may significantly improve the prognosis for recovery.[6] And like I said, it’s impossible to be completely objective when it comes to self-diagnosing the condition of your own mental health or that of a loved one.

        Furthermore, although the corner pharmacy may have plenty of over-the-counter medications that claim to help you fall asleep faster and even stay asleep longer, at the end of the day, no medication can actually resolve the underlying issues that have been negatively impacting your ability to sleep in the first place.

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        Just like in business—and in the immortal words of Thomas A. Edison—“there is no substitute for hard work.” So, try to set aside as much time as you can to work on improving your mental health. After all, you are your most influential advocate, and your mind is your greatest asset.

        More Tips on Mental Wellness

        Featured photo credit: Sydney Sims via unsplash.com

        Reference

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