What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness simply means a state of relaxed awareness. This state is also known as meditation.

There has recently been a lot of research into mindfulness and and more and more is going on. It has proved that mindfulness has a lot of positive effects on our health. The results so far have been overwhelming. Here is what they have found up till now.

Mindfulness is the ultimate stress-beating tool. It is excellent at reducing the effects of stress. We live in a busy time. We are bombarded with information. The speed of life has never been so high. When we feel stressed, stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) are released into the blood stream. They bring about a series of changes in the body and mind. These include an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar content; a suppressed immunity, fertility and digestion; and changes in mood and motivation. A prolonged exposure to stress hormones is toxic to the organism. It can lead to diseases like diabetes, heart disease, immune dysfunctions, allergies, eczema, asthma, fertility issues, digestion and eating disorders, obesity, cancer, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, memory and concentration problems, or depression. Mindfulness slows down or stops stress-related issues, reduces chronic pain, and returns balance to the body and mind.

Mindfulness gives you more energy. Research is currently looking into the effects of mindfulness on a cellular level. It has documented that mitochondria – the cell “batteries” – show more activity during and after meditation. No surprise that people frequently report to have more energy during and after meditation.

Mindfulness makes you younger. Our bodies grow new cells. That is how our bodies renew and heal. Every cell of our body contains our DNA. The DNA spiral has a “tail” called telomere. As long as this telomere is present in a cell, the cell keeps multiplying. However, telomeres shorten with age, and eventually disappear. When that happens, cells stop renewing. This is the aging process. In meditation, we release telomelaze – the enzyme that supports the grows of telomeres. Not long ago we believed that the aging process cannot be reversed. We now know that meditation can change our DNA and keep us young!

Mindfulness grows more brain matter. Meditation supports the growth of new grey matter. More grey matter means better focus and memory, and stronger creativity and compassion.

Mindfulness (or meditation) is very simple: it means being relaxed and aware. However, when we hear the word meditation, all sorts of images and notions come up. So, let’s make things clear.

Meditation is not concentration. It is actually the opposite: it is relaxation. Concentration is a result of meditation. When the mind relaxes, we can concentrate better.

Meditation is not a religious practice. It goes beyond all religions. In fact, meditation can bring people of different religions and backgrounds together.

Meditation is not sitting in the lotus posture. It is important to be comfortable when you meditate. Your mind can only relax when your body is relaxed. You can sit, or lie down, and you can choose any position that feels good. You can rest on the floor, on a chair, a sofa, or a bed. Modern meditation often involves movement, too.

Meditation is not for old people. In fact, children are natural meditators. They are totally involved in whatever they are doing, right here, right now. Not planning what they’ll do next, not reminiscing about what they did before. They are totally relaxed and present for this moment. We lose the ability to be in the moment and meditate as we grow up, through upbringing and conditioning. Meditation helps us find the way back to a natural state of presence and relaxation. It brings aliveness back into our lives. Meditation is for everyone.

Meditation is not thought control. Thoughts cannot be controlled. They have a life of their own; they come and go on their own accord. Controlling thoughts takes a tremendous effort, and meditation is only possible in a state of relaxation. In meditation, we do not try to think good thoughts, or avoid bad ones. We simply notice all thoughts as they arise and disappear, but we don’t pay them any other attention. We stay present for whatever is here and now, and so move into a space of deep inner silence.

Meditation is not a way of running away from problems. Quite the opposite; meditation gives you the strength to face problems with a smile. Meditation helps us develop skills to handle all situations in a nice and constructive way. We learn to accept situations as they are and act on them from a space of consciousness. Challenges will arise, but we can still move forward with confidence.

Meditation doesn’t take a long of time. There are meditation techniques that take hours or minutes. There are special meditation techniques for busy people. Meditation relaxes you, and consequently, you work better, faster and more efficiently. Meditation is a great tool if you’re busy.

There is no need to give up material life. There is no need to change your lifestyle, or even your diet. There is no need to give up your comforts or luxuries. There is no need to go and meditate in a cave. Meditation works just as well on a feather sofa and after a lovely meal.

Meditation is fun. We are bored because we have become numb. Meditation makes you alive again. It awakens your senses and helps you see the beauty in simple things again.

My meditation is simple, it does not require any complex practice, it is laughing, dancing and sitting in silence. Osho