The health benefits of mindfulness meditation
The health benefits of mindfulness meditation: how to start practicing mindfulness
You’ve heard of mindfulness and you’ve heard of meditation, but have you heard of mindfulness meditation? Bear with us, because it’s a practice that requires your full attention. It can aid concentration and we should all consider it as an important part of our self-care routine. To do this, we need to stay in the present moment and adopt breathing techniques. Want to hear more about it?
What is mindfulness meditation?
We’ve all felt like we’re living life on autopilot and often we carry out our activities absentmindedly, without really paying much attention to what we’re doing. Mindfulness meditation is about doing precisely the opposite – giving full attention to what you’re doing, no matter what it is.
Mindfulness is an ancient practice that aims to bring our full awareness to the present moment, a mental state achieved by meditative practices so we become focused on “the now”. Sounds pretty appealing, doesn’t it?
When we reach such a state of awareness and self-regulation, we stop living on autopilot and can observe emotions and sensations as they arise, without suppressing them. This means that we adopt a more flexible attitude towards them.
So still wondering what this has to do with physical exercise for a fitness nut like you? According to an article published by the Swiss Esports Federation, athletes and anyone who exercises can also reap the health benefits of mindfulness meditation. When taking on this attitude of complete attentiveness, we can hone the skills we need to boost our athletic performance. Sounds like a no brainer?
How is mindfulness meditation different from other forms of mindfulness?
The term mindfulness might be new to you, but you’ve probably already heard of meditation, right? Meditation is the umbrella term that refers to various practices and methods that can include praying, visualisation, mantras and contemplation.
Mindfulness is the basis of meditation, because in order to meditate, we need to bring our attention to the present moment. But there’s more to it than that. Mindfulness is based on the mind-body connection, and the focus is on the here and now, rather than the past or the future.
Sounds complicated, but don’t stress, there’s no need to empty your mind of thoughts and emotions. Actually, the idea is to simply observe your thought patterns and what is happening right now in your body: any sensations that come up, whether positive, negative or neutral. Practising and reaching this state is a tool that can help you manage stressful situations and improve your concentration. This could really come in handy for us athletes, right?
4 steps to practise mindfulness meditation
To practise mindfulness, you might want to chat to someone in the know, such as a qualified healthcare professional or psychologist. But you can also try it alone in the comfort of your own home, in a quiet and comfy place.
Mayo Clinic, one of the most renowned medical research and service institutions in the United States, has developed a step-by-step guide for mindfulness meditation. Applying these techniques throughout the day enhances our feelings of wellbeing, and our focus turns to what we are doing at that very moment. Sounds pretty good, right? So why not give it a go. We show you how to do it in four easy steps.
1. Pay attention to your environment
Let's be honest. Sometimes we’re experiencing quite a fast-paced life, juggling our morning workout, meetings, personal duties and more. That makes it quite difficult for us to really notice what’s going on around us. So why not try to set aside time to fully experience your surroundings with all of your senses (touch, sound, sight, smell and taste)? It could seem a simple piece of advice but let’s try to really feel your bedroom floor, your carpet or your mattress. Observe the colour of your furniture, take in any scents in the air and when you eat, pay attention to what you are eating. How does it taste? What about the texture? That’s it! Now you're being mindful.
2. Be present in the moment
“Be present in the moment”. That’s a sentence we have already heard several times. This is actually the aim but also the greatest challenge of mindfulness - to be fully present in both mind AND body. It all starts with the right mindset. To do this, you must set out with the firm intention of really paying attention and fully experiencing whatever you’re doing. Find the joy in life’s simple pleasures, such as a candlelit dinner, a nice warm bubble bath, picking out your clothes for the day or simply appreciating the smell of freshly made coffee.
3. Be kind to yourself
Now this is a challenge we all struggle with. We’re usually harder on ourselves than on our friends, right? For example, we beat ourselves up if we don’t meet our weekly workout goals, whereas we’d usually have words of comfort and encouragement for a friend in the same situation.
So your homework is to treat yourself as you would treat a friend. Be kind and accept everything that you are. We’ll be doing it with you!
4. Focus on your breathing
Breathing is an involuntary act, so we don’t pay much attention to it throughout the day. But actually paying attention to our breath grants us a certain power: it can keep us calm, gain greater body awareness and is an important part to reap the health benefits of mindfulness meditation.
Convinced about the benefits of mindfulness meditation? As far as we’re concerned, the practice belongs on the self-care list that every athlete or sports fan should follow. Take care of yourself, and let’s get mindful!
Written by: Green Park Content
Any medical advice and views expressed are those of the author; readers should obtain medical advice.
 Bishop SR, Lau M, Shapiro S, Carlson L, Anderson ND, Carmody J, et al. Mindfulness: A Proposed Operational Definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice. 2004. 11: 230-241. Available at: http://www.personal.kent.edu/~dfresco/mindfulness/Bishop_et_al.pdf
 Birrer D, Rothlin P, Morgan G. Mindfulness to Enhance Athletic Performance: Theoretical Considerations and Possible Impact Mechanisms. Mindfulness. Sept 2012: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257795319_Mindfulness_to_Enhance_Athletic_Performance_Theoretical_Considerations_and_Possible_Impact_Mechanisms
 Oliveira AVRR, Padovani RC. Mindfulness e o esporte competitivo: a importância para atletas de alto rendimento. Revista Brasileira de Psicologia do Esporte [Brazilian Journal of Sports Psychology], Brasília, v.8, no. 2, October 2018.
 Portuguese Meditation Society. O que é mindfulness? Available at: https://meditt.space/r/mindfulness
 Porto Buddhist Centre. Qual a diferença entre meditação e mindfulness? Available at:
 Mayo Clinic. Mindfulness Exercise. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356
 Brazilian Ministry of Health. Mindfulness - técnica de meditação que pode tratar doenças. Available at: blog.saude.gov.br/index.php/promocao-da-saude/53253-mindfulness-tecnica de-meditacao-que-pode-tratar-doencas
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