Mindfulness meditation is a practice that has its roots in Buddhist teachings and is the most popular and researched form of meditation in the West. It involves paying attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind without judgment or engagement. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can improve care after just three months of training, whether based on mindfulness or compassion. But is basic mindfulness practice enough to make you a kinder and more compassionate person? Or do you need to focus explicitly on these qualities of the heart in your meditation practice? This is a source of much debate in mindfulness research.
After three months of body awareness focused on the present moment through practices such as body scans, participants did not significantly improve their perception of heartbeats. However, after six months of contemplative practice, their body awareness improved to a significant level, and after nine months it improved even more. Mindfulness meditation combines concentration with awareness. All that is required is a disciplined meditation posture, a straight back, and a willingness to be honest with yourself.
Common techniques include paying attention to breathing or body tomography. Every time you find that your thoughts wander, simply notice them without judgment and return your attention to your breathing. Practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce depression, stress, and anxiety, as well as promote resilience. Scientific evidence has also emerged that shows that meditation can be a useful tool in combating chronic diseases, such as depression, heart disease and chronic pain.
Vipassana, an ancient Indian form of meditation, means seeing things as they really are. It dates back more than 2,500 years and is credited with the mindfulness meditation movement in the United States. Traditionally, vipassana is taught over a 10-day course, during which students must abstain from a number of things, including intoxicating substances and sexual activity.