Mindfulness Meditation Affects Well-Being
Among the many benefits of mindfulness, people often cite as the most important its effects on emotional well-being.
Being mindful improves our awareness of how our imagination and our emotions affect our overall health and well-being. Unified Mindfulness allows us to identify and cope with the different ways we get stuck in preoccupation, confusion, challenging emotions, and conflict. It exposes the natural capacity of the mind and body to restore balance and maintain our well-being, and enables us to explore new behaviors, solutions, and perspectives.
“Practice makes perfect.” The same thing is true with mindfulness. Lasting results can be achieved only through consistent practice.
Unified Mindfulness is designed to help us develop regular and unobstructed focus in the face of recurring subjective experiences, along with a mindset of openness and acceptance of any experiences that may occur. Through Unified Mindfulness, we form a whole new relationship to our sensory experience, and that rewires us in a fundamental way.
During Unified Mindfulness, unpleasant feelings and thoughts are not neglected but identified and noted, as they occur, in a nonjudgmental manner. This enables us to detach from them and allow more versatile and adaptive coping responses to come into play.
At one time, this claim to detachment was something only meditation teachers made, but hard science has now proven it. Research has repeatedly shown that a practice of mindfulness meditation can help people enhance their health and well-being. It enables the mind to be still and suspend its habitual patterns, so that we can become more conscious of the existing moment. That pleasant experience we think of as “being in the moment.”
Unified Mindfulness consists of three unique and fundamental skills. We can consider that we’re practicing mindfulness when all three skills are working together.
Concentration Power is our ability to concentrate on what we consider relevant in the moment. Put simply, this skill allows us to better focus on what we need to get done when it’s time to do that, and to shift our focus, say, to a pastime we enjoy, when it’s time to do that. Once we have mastered this skill, we can readily concentrate on what we want, when we want! Just consider a moment when you weren’t able to concentrate on what you really wanted to, and you’ll appreciate the value of this skill.
Sensory Clarity is the ability to track and explore your moment-by-moment experience in real time. This is a fundamental skill of mindfulness that helps you determine what sights, sounds, and/or feelings constitute your experience of life, at any given time.
Sensory Clarity enables you to distinguish the components of sensory events and identify those that were formerly unconscious or bundled together. This reduces our experience of being overwhelmed.
In the same way your computer desktop can become crowded with documents, or your schedule crowded with appointments, your inner experience can build up in unpleasant and unfortunate ways, leading to confusion and overwhelm.
Take note: Sensory Clarity is different from intellectual clarity. Even so, there’s a relationship between the two. When you get a great idea, there’s an “aha” moment. As you begin to disentangle your sensory experience, Sensory Clarity leads to an “aha” or insight, in more and more moments of your life.
Your ability to allow sensory experience to effortlessly come and go, without push and pull, is what we call Equanimity. In other words, Equanimity is the skill of experiencing your inner world without attaching to certain conditions or pushing others away.
This fundamental mindfulness skill is responsible for emotional intelligence, self-exploration and self-acceptance, a sense of inner harmony, and our ability to metabolize our experiences, efficiently. Equanimity is often misconstrued and mistaken for suppression of feelings, the idea being that you’re supposed to not have reactions to things that happen. In fact, it’s the opposite. You are permitting emotions to come and go to their full expression, within you, while bringing a level of acceptance and nonjudgment to the experience.
That holds true for all our sensory experience. By practicing Equanimity, we’re able to take more appropriate action, because we’re not dragged around by our knee-jerk reactions. Processing our reactions with Equanimity gives us choice about how we show up for any given situation.
The purpose of mindfulness meditation is to develop your mastery of each of these skills, step-by-step. Take your time. Just like learning how to cook or mastering your favorite musical instrument, you have to invest time and effort in mindfulness meditation. As you develop these three fundamental skills through practice, you’ll be amazed at the increase in tranquility, energy, and well-being that you begin to experience.