Mind Your Health

Q I’ve heard meditation reduces stress. I can’t sit cross-legged on the floor anymore and I’m not sure I can meditate. Is there a “light” version?

AUsually, we advise our readers to avoid gimmicks or quick fix promises for health. However, with this one, we are encouraging our clients to get on this mental health bandwagon because meditation is not new. It is thousands of years old with scientific support for its positive effects on health, mood and overall functioning.

A “lighter” version of meditation is called mindfulness. Whereas meditation is a vast field of practice, encompassing different cultures and goals, mindfulness is an individual and more narrow experience.Mindfulness is focusing only on your immediate task, whether that is walking or breathing. You can adapt it to your own abilities and environment. No sitting cross-legged, chanting, or experience needed!

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment,” states The Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley (http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition).

Another name for mindfulness could be presence, or even being in the moment. It is the antithesis of multitasking, which splits our focus, fracturing our concentration and attention, both of which are required for good cognitive functioning. Mindfulness is also good for our mood. It teaches us to accept our situation of the moment, minimizing feelings of being self-critical or overwhelmed.

Start with small steps toward mindfulness.Be patient while you adopt this practice and do not judge yourself in the process.Peace be with you!

1. While eating, focus on eating. Taste each bite. Feel sated or full.

2. Do just one thing and think about that one thing without judgment, like reading this.

3. Take a minute when you wake up and when you go to bed to think about waking, or sleeping. You’ve done these every day for your whole life. Draw your attention to your
routine and accept it. If you want to change some aspect, do so without criticism.


“Ancient Meditation Techniques”
“Mindfulness-based psychotherapies: a review of conceptual
foundations, empirical evidence and practical considerations.” Australian
and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 2006, Vol. 40, No. 4 , Pages