My meditation experience.
I've tried a few different types of meditation over the years, Transcendental Meditation and The Silva Method Of Mind Control to name a couple. I tried guided meditations, meditations where I focus on my breathing, meditations where I try not to think of anything at all, and meditations where I do visualizations. For the most part I enjoyed them all although visualizing is my favourite. (Not visualizing to manifest stuff, just because I enjoy the process)
Like most people who do meditation over a long period of time, I did find it to have a calming effect on me. One of the techniques in the Silva Method was very helpful in learning pages and pages of scripts when I worked in the theatre.
I can't say one way or the other if it had any direct health benefits, but the whole stress reduction factor would have to have a preventative effect .
Then there was mindfulness.
I have to admit to being a bit confused by the recent appearance of mindfulness as a separate entity. Everyone seemed to be doing what I'd been doing for years but instead of meditation, they were calling it mindfulness.
My confusion disappeared when I read a post called No To Fast Food Mindfulness (link below). I didn't agree with everything the author said but I liked this quote " ‘mindfulness’ is a word created to make meditation palatable to a new generation of people who don’t want to be reminded of the religious connotations of the practice."
It's important to draw this distinction because there are people in the world who just can't get into meditating. Maybe it doesn't work for them, or they had a negative experience doing it , or they just can't find the time. I understand that there are great benefits to finding the time, but some people just won't. So what are they to do if they would like to be more mindful? This is where what I like to call "practical mindfulness" comes in.
The other practical mindfulness.
What I call practical mindfulness is based on the research of Ellen Langer Ph.D., a Harvard professor, who has written three books on mindfulness. She says the research shows that just actively noticing new things will make you more mindful. Her mindfulness technique is scientifically validated and involves no meditation at all. This means anyone can become more mindful just by making an effort to notice things around them, particularly new things. Langer suggests an easy way to start is to try and notice two or three new things about the people you are close to. Actively looking for new things puts you right in the present moment, also known as being mindful.
The reason I find this interesting is directly connected to the Mindful Frog audio's I create. I would not have been interested in meditation when I was a child, and I know my own kids couldn't sit still long enough to do it. They would however listen to a story while they imagined it all in their minds. If the "story" is encouraging them to visualize being mindful, all the better, and that's what the Mindful Frog adventures are designed to do. If lots of grown ups have huge difficulties sitting still to meditate, how hard must it be for children? I wanted to offer a way for the kids who don't like sitting "doing nothing", to still get the benefits of mindfulness.
I would encourage anyone who is interested to have a go at meditation, and it's worth trying the different styles to find one that works for you.
If none of them feel good, you can still be mindful just by noticing things.
Enjoy being mindful!