How Mindfulness, Meditation And Self-Compassion Can Help You Live A More Fulfilling Life
Do you spend countless hours worrying and stressing out? You are not alone!
Worry and stress can have a huge impact on your wellbeing and how you live your life.
An individuals’ wellbeing includes their mental, physical, and emotional health; ability to socialise; and how they feel about themselves and their experiences. Research indicates that wellbeing is also linked to one's life satisfaction and happiness.
A wellbeing practice that is widely known is meditation. Meditation is the practice of training your awareness and building a healthy perspective on you and your life, by observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment, which in turn can help you understand them more.
My interest in meditation started when I was young. I used to have difficulty falling asleep, so my mum, introduced me to Louise Hay’s evening meditation, which improved my sleep for the years after.
However, during the stressful years of school, I refrained from meditation when I could have benefitted from it greatly!
As meditation has been shown to help improve aspects of one's psychological wellbeing, including levels of stress.
Luckily, I was reintroduced to meditation when at university studying psychology, where stress levels were at an all-time high! Here I learnt about mindfulness and mindfulness meditation.
For those of you who do not have the foggiest idea about mindfulness (very much like me a couple of years ago!), it’s a tool we can develop to help reduce feelings of overwhelm. Present moment awareness and acceptance of our mind’s thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and of the environment around us, encompass mindfulness. Basically, being present with yourself!
So, mindfulness meditation is meditation combined with mindfulness, involving deep breathing as well as body and mind awareness.
Personally, I found mindfulness difficult to grasp, but after learning about it and trying out meditations on a daily basis, the concept became easier to use in normal day-to-day situations.
A technique I like to use involves saying a word that describes the information your senses are receiving in that moment. So, for example, if a bird chirps, I say to myself ‘sound’. You can do this while walking, meditating, or anyway you wish. The point of this exercise is to train your mind to stay aware of the present moment, and to create distance between you and your thoughts.
You are probably wondering, “why have you even mentioned mindfulness?”. Well... it turns out it also has a great impact on our wellbeing.
Research reveals to us that mindfulness:
- reduces worry through the slowing of the breath
- increases our ability to understand ourselves
- Helps increase positive self-talk
- Reduces anxiety
- Reduces stress
Stress is a feeling that causes disharmony in our mood, bodies and behaviours too! Examples on how stress affects an individual is shown in the table below:
For me, mindfulness helps identify when I am not living in the moment. This allows me to observe my thoughts and see what I am thinking about instead. And most of the time, I am worrying or stressing about this, that, or the other. Now, this is not the way I want to spend my time, do you?
Building this awareness can help you find moments of peace and maintain your sanity in this hectic world. To be honest, I believe that awareness and acknowledgement are the first steps to solving an issue we are faced with. Both of which are highlighted in mindfulness and meditation. So, I suppose mindfulness meditations are a double win!
Being mindful is an act of self-care, it is a way that we can ensure we are living our lives compassionately.
Now, I know being mindful 100% of the time is not that realistic, because we are human, and we are allowed to acknowledge that we may worry from time to time! So, as we learn more about mindfulness and how we can use it in our daily lives, we must be patient with ourselves, as it takes time to train our brain to be mindful.
View mindfulness, meditation, and both combined as a journey, with no destination! Because there is no certain way of doing these wellbeing practices.
Take note on how it makes you feel- that is indication enough, as to whether you are on the right track! At the end of the day, these practices will only help improve your well-being. But patience is key!
Self- compassion, is also key when caring for ourselves. Kristen Neff states when an individual is self-compassionate, they show understanding towards their own suffering, feelings of failure, or inadequacy.
Self-compassionate people understand that life is not perfect, which helps them take a gentle, kind, and sympathetic approach towards themselves in their times of need. This promotes emotional stability in such people.
Those who lack self-compassion get angry and are critical of themselves when life throws suffering or discomfort their way. Learning to be kind to yourself is vital, because the relationship you have with yourself is the only constant one that is guaranteed. Make your mind a lovely place to live in! For your own sake!
Being kind to me is good!
I don’t know about you, but before learning about self-compassion, I had no idea that being kind to myself was beneficial at all! I thought being hard on myself was a way of getting things done.
But it turns out this is not the case!
In fact, you can have half of the things done on your checklist, with the want to complete it the following day, and still find time to understand that you have done the best you can, and that you still have time.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this, and the deadline may have already passed. However, that does not mean you cannot be kind to yourself in these moments. You will take away lessons from situations like these, for sure, but that is okay.
Do you know why?... Because we are all human, perfectly imperfect, just as we are supposed to be. The main priority should be how you are treating and looking after yourself!
Applying all of this to your life
So, as you can tell by now, it is important to maintain your wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle.
This can be done through the use of mindfulness, meditation, and self-compassion, mentioned above. To get you started, you can show yourself some care, by:
Moving your body in a way that you enjoy most, like yoga or dancing
Treating your body with nourishing foods
Speaking kind words to yourself, and yes that includes both out loud and internally, any time of day and in any location... especially in front of the mirror!
With time acts of self-care will allow you to lead a fulfilling, active, enjoyable life. Some acts will have instant effects, but others may take a while to learn and adapt to. But don’t worry.
Just remember to be patient and kind to yourself, and you will get there! You have got this!
Sammi at Unwind Yoga Studio x
Better Health Channel, 2020: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/wellbeing
Greater Good Magazine: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition
Delgado et al., 2010: https://pandelisperakakis.info/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Delgado_2010.pdf
Hoge et al., 2013, URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3772979/
Hofmann et al. 2010: Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 78(2), 169-183. DOI: 10.1037/a0018555. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2848393/
Kirsten Neff, 2021- source: https://self-compassion.org/the-three-elements-of-self-compassion-2/#definition
Better Health Channel, 2020; Psychology Today, 2013, https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201312/five-proven-keys-improve-your-well-being