Mindfulness, Meditation And Mental Health…

Mindfulness, Meditation And Mental Health

 

Mid-May is upon us and do you know what that means? We’re halfway through Mental Health Awareness Month. If you take a moment to ponder what that signifies to you individually or someone you care about, use mindfulness.

By that I mean be curious, open and accepting, whether it be of yourself, a loved one, a colleague or even a stranger.

Living in the present moment and focusing on one’s awareness in a non-judgmental way is the classic definition of mindfulness.

When we experience moments without assessing them, we are opening ourselves up to a more relaxed and calm state.

If someone cuts you off in traffic, for example, it’s your choice how you react.

The next time that happens, notice what you feel. Do you feel instantly angry and slighted, or do you feel no emotion at all? Something in between? Either way, there is no need to label it.

SEE ALSO: The 5 Secret Benefits Of Yoga


Metacognition and the Mind

Neuroscientists say that using metacognitive thinking skills is the key to mindfulness. ‘Metacognition’ is a term coined in the ‘70s, and it means awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes – or literally “thinking about thinking.”

The cool thing is that when we are able to perceive our own thoughts and experiences, we tend to be happier than those who don’t use metacognitive thinking skills.

When people are able to regulate their thinking, problems are only problems if they perceive them to be. Maybe you’re unhappy because of your evaluation of your circumstances.



This isn’t to say mental illness is something you can will away. There’s no doubt millions of adults and teens (350 million worldwide) suffer from depression and may even need psychiatric drugs.

Even toddlers and youth are developing mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, according to a recent issue of American Psychologist.

However, fine tuning those metacognitive skills as a coping strategy could be incorporated into a treatment plan. Every human being can benefit from honing personal metacognitive skills because those skills allow us to face life’s problems, come up with solutions and adjust accordingly.

Often times our brains are “normal”, it’s just how we choose to use them that can either make us miserable or make us happy. Asking a counselor for good coping skills is a wise investment.


Meditation and the Mind

Meditation researcher Richard Davidson has concluded that the combination of both therapy and mindfulness meditation may help with depression. He wrote that mindful meditation wasn’t necessarily developed to treat people with mental health problems, but the therapeutic benefits are promising.

If a depressed person is able to pay attention to his thoughts and change the way he sees them – using emotion regulation – Davidson says maybe they will be less vulnerable to a depressive relapse.

By not getting carried away by your own thoughts, mindful meditation could be just as effective as traditional talk therapy, according to a landmark study from researchers at Lund University. There are at least 500 scientific studies on mindfulness/meditation and the brain in the National Institute of Health PubMed database.

Any time your mind starts to wander, bring it back to the present moment if you can. It will keep you focused on the here and now – and not get you trapped into thinking about the past or ruminating about the future.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the power to just enjoy this very moment?


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Melissa Davidson

Melissa Davidson is a writer and social media marketer with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Montana. She's…

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