Story

How meditation and mindfulness can change your outlook 

by Liz Marchant

When it seems like everyone needs something from us at home, at work, and in our friendships, it can be easy to get caught up in others’ needs and forget about our own health and wellbeing, and, in particular, our mental health. We often just try to carry on, ignoring our own needs. 

We don’t need to be told that this is a recipe for disaster or, at least, unhappiness. No matter what we have going on, we need to give ourselves a much-needed break from time to time. Meditation and mindfulness can be useful strategies to help keep us at peace even on busy days.  

Meditation 

Meditation lets us be more aware of our situations and surroundings, and to develop new and healthier perspectives on our lives. Practicing meditation is a great way to help minimise stress, focus more, and even be less reactive in stressful situations. Our reasons for meditating may vary, and it can help to have a clear understanding of what you’d like to achieve through meditation to guide you on your journey. 

While it may seem foreign to beginners, meditation has been practiced by people worldwide for thousands of years. It will help bring a sense of calm but getting it right can take some practice and patience.  

For new starters, consider setting aside 10 minutes to meditate each day. This will help to ease you into the practice and, as you become more familiar with the activity, you may find yourself increasing this to 15- or 20-minute sessions.  

If you’re not sure where to start, consider using an app. There are lots of meditation apps available for your smartphone and most will guide you through the meditation depending on your level of experience. If you try an app that isn’t quite right for you, don’t give up. With so many options, a bit of trial-and-error is bound to find the right one for you. 

Mindfulness 

Meditation encompasses a range of techniques and strategies that will help you to quiet your mind and focus on becoming more aware. One of these techniques is known as mindfulness. As one technique that can be used for meditation, mindfulness encourages us to focus on the present and be fully engaged with what we are doing at that moment.  

Mindfulness as a practice differs slightly from meditation in that it lets us feel present in the moment in any situation and can become more a way of life than a dedicated daily practice.  

Long-term benefits 

As many of us know, meditation and mindfulness can be great strategies to help improve our mental health and general wellbeing, and, for a lot of people, this can be a lifechanging experience. These practices can help us to be aware, not only of ourselves, but of our environment and those around us. In this way, practicing meditation and mindfulness can help to improve our relationships with others as well as with ourselves.  

As we become more familiar with mindfulness and meditation, we can bring a greater sense of calm to our lives. Luckily for us and those in the know, mindfulness can help us to rewire our brains towards having more positive thoughts and emotions. This can help us deal with stressful situations more effectively. 

If we sit in a more positive frame of mind as our base level, we can dramatically alter our outlook on life and the situations we find ourselves in. Small stressors will have less of an impact on a positive mind, and we may find ourselves changing from glass half-empty to glass half-full kinds of people through this practice.  

These helpful strategies can also manifest in physical changes as well, as mindfulness and meditation have been shown to change the shapes of our brains in what is called neuroplasticity. As we continue our meditative journey, the grey matter in our brainsresponsible for planning, problem-solving, learning, memory, and all things we need in our working livescan increase, while diminishing the part of our brain that regulates our fears, anxieties, and stress.  

If you haven’t tried meditation or mindfulness yet, consider giving it a go. You may only be able to start with five or 10 minutes but, as you increase your meditation time, you are sure to see a corresponding increase in the benefits.