Mindfulness Meditation for Mental Clarity and Energy

Explore the benefits of mindfulness meditation, which not only diminishes stress but also boosts energy, sharpens focus, and enriches relationships. It delves into diverse meditation techniques like mindful breathing and body scanning, compares mindfulness with other practices, and offers insights into its neurological effects.
Mindfulness Meditation for Mental Clarity and Energy

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the responsibilities you juggle and things to tend to? Modern life keeps getting busier and busier, keeping our minds racing and stress levels high.

But there is a practice that can ground and center us: mindfulness. This technique can not only reduce stress, but also boosts energy, diminishes pain, sharpens focus, and improves relationships.

To get you started, let’s explore what mindfulness is, where it comes from, how it works, and how to start applying it in your life!

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

While mindfulness can describe a wide variety of meditation techniques (and non-meditative practices too!), it refers to a specific set of practices and traditions.

Mindful meditation is a practice that involves self-reflection, counting breaths, and releasing one’s thoughts. 

You can find parallel practices in a wide variety of world religions, the most popular are Buddhism, Hinduism, and yogic traditions, used as a self-reflective meditation. 

Meditation Techniques

Mindfulness meditation techniques are often centered around paying attention to your breathing or body as a means of relaxing and focusing.

Mindfulness breathing techniques can be guided by counting or by a narrative script that helps you focus on the feeling of breathing.

Counting doesn’t just apply to how many breaths you take, but also to how long it takes to inhale, hold your breath, and then exhale. Box breathing is a method of counting four seconds for an inhale, four seconds to hold your breath, four seconds to exhale, and four seconds to pause before inhaling again. It can be used in stressful situations to reset your breathing and dispel anxiety.

Mindfulness can also involve body scanning. Similar to the process of openly allowing ideas to come to you and then letting go, body-scanning involves slowly focusing on various parts of your body and then letting your attention move away. This technique has enabled some people to find pain relief.

The techniques of mindfulness can even be used while exercising. You can develop a deeper understanding of your body by applying the intentional self-reflexing focus during a walking meditation.

Mindfulness vs. Mindfulness-Based Stress Response

Mindfulness was formalized into a cognitive-behavioral psychological intervention called mindfulness-based stress response (MBSR) in 1979. It’s an eight-week course that profoundly influenced what we think of as mindfulness. Many scientific studies that make claims about mindfulness use MBSR as a basis for their definition of mindfulness.

Mindfulness vs. Transcendental Meditation

Other than mindfulness, one of the other most popular forms of meditation is transcendental meditation (TM). Both seek to help restore your balance and these two methods come from different backgrounds and use different techniques.

While mindfulness pulls some of its techniques based on Buddhist meditation rituals, TM has roots in Hindu practices. 

Both meditations have the goal of moving past intrusive thoughts. The main distinction is that while mindfulness trains you to allow yourself to process thoughts and reflect on them before moving past them, TM prioritizes preventing them from occurring by focusing on repeating mantras. 

How Mindfulness Works in Your Brain

By training in mindfulness, you are teaching your brain not to respond with a fight or flight response. Long-term practitioners of mindfulness have seen the areas of their brain associated with fight or flight stress response decrease in size.

By training yourself to be habitually calm, clear, and focused in a relaxed state, that practice will transfer over when you are in a stressful situation. There have been scientific studies that show mindfulness practitioners are less likely to respond with negativity when stressed. Internally they can have more mental clarity because they do not experience repetitive negative thoughts.

The mindfulness energy boost is less direct and involves how meditation reduces stress. Mindfulness prevents energy burnout from stress by activating your parasympathetic nervous system and interrupting a stress response that causes a long-term drain on mental and physical resources.

Women sitting on boardwalk at sunset

The Benefits of Meditation

Meditation has applications for people of all ages. It helps you separate your thoughts and plans from the stresses of life, helping you make better decisions, feel your feelings, process them, and share them in ways that positively affect the people around you.

Anna Gulmac, an educator, notes, “I’ve noticed a really big movement with how children respond to each other after a mindfulness session, they’re more positive in the way that they bounce back from a challenging situation.”

Famous actor Hugh Jackman has practiced meditation since his early twenties and is very vocal about how it helps him deal with the stresses of his life. “With meditation, my anxiety levels dropped considerably… The mind can make us worry about things beyond their measure. And the great thing about meditation is that twice a day, the monkey mind just calms down.”

For older adults, mindfulness meditation has been found to improve energy, sleep, and mental awareness as self-reported in diaries, but one of the most exciting results is that it’s been widely reported as helping people deal with pain. One participant says, “By using meditation I have been able to reduce the feeling of pain.”

How to Get Started with Mindfulness Meditation

Want to start experiencing the benefits of mindfulness meditation practice? To get the most out of your training, we have three tips:

  • Take an in-person class
  • Apply what you learn to your life
  • Beware of negative consequences

The value of in-person

You can teach yourself mindfulness meditation by watching videos on YouTube. The best way to start is to take in-person classes. Then you have access to a practitioner who can answer your questions afterward and have a full conversation.

Breathing techniques can have a strong effect on the body–it’s best to do it with instruction. There are some breathing techniques that can make you faint and other negative potential effects of meditation, so it is good to have experts on hand to help as needed.

Apply it to your life

When you have a stressful encounter, you won’t be able to sit down on the floor and start meditating. However, you might be able to slightly relax your focus and alter your breathing to a 4-second inhale, 7-second hold breath, and 8-second exhale (4-7-8) pattern for a couple of cycles before you take on the stress.

Potential Negative Consequences

You may be surprised to hear that meditation can actually cause harm to practitioners.  

By coaching yourself to observe your feelings and thoughts from an outside perspective, it can make you feel more detached from your feelings, alienated, and disassociated. For some people, excessive quiet time can lead to increased unpleasant intrusive thoughts.

As you embark on meditation practice, don’t be afraid to stop practicing if it is becoming uncomfortable.

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