Welcome to the July Mindful Mama Carnival: Mindfulness and Nature
This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have shared their experiences of mindfulness and the natural world. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature, and so find the stability and confidence you will need to live, and die, well. Meditation is the road to enlightenment. (The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.)
These are very strong words and one might struggle to make any use of them. Does meditation really work? And even if it does, how should you meditate to get any of the claimed benefits? To answer these questions let me guide you through my research on the science of meditation, its physiological, psychological and spiritual benefits, and let me present to you my favorite meditation exercise.
SCIENCE OF MEDITATION
According to Psychology Today recent research indicates that meditating, even for just ten minutes, can have dramatic effects. Several studies have demonstrated that the brains of people who meditate, even for a short time, generate a higher frequency of alpha waves (electromagnetic waves produced by a relaxed brain) and experience less anxiety and depression.
The EOC institute reports that brainwave patterns visibly alter during meditation. Before meditation, a normal person has unbalanced brainwave patterns. After 15 minutes, both brain hemispheres become synchronized in deep meditation. After 25 minutes, and continued synchronization, the benefits are infinite.
It is claimed that meditation may also increase the volume of so-called grey matter in your brain. Eileen Luders, lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCL A Laboratory of Neuro-Imaging stated that people who consistently meditate have a singular ability to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability and engage in mindful behavior.
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
Hundreds benefits of meditation have been named. Here are the ones most important to mindful mamas:
Physiological benefits of meditation:
- It leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation.
- It reduces pre-menstrual syndrome symptoms.
- It enhances the immune system.
- Enhances energy, strength and vigor.
- Helps with weight loss.
- Decreases the aging process.
- Relaxes our nervous system.
Psychological benefits of meditation:
- Increases serotonin level, influences mood and behavior.
- Helps with focus & concentration.
- Increases emotional stability.
- Improves relationships.
- Helps ignore petty issues.
- Decreases tendency to worry.
- Increases listening skills and empathy.
Spiritual benefits of meditation:
- Provides peace of mind, happiness.
- Helps you discover your purpose.
- Deepens understanding of yourself and others.
- Brings body, mind, spirit in harmony.
- Deepens the level of spiritual relaxation.
- Helps living in the present moment.
Different spiritual traditions, and different teachers within those traditions, prescribe or suggest different physical postures for meditation. Perhaps the most famous is the cross-legged sitting posture such as the lotus position as in the picture of my husband and myself. In this position I perform a series of deep breaths and head movements and then relax my whole body and mind (I am not allowed to reprint the exact instructions here but you can find the complete sequence of this exercise in “Read Me – I Am Magical“)
I love meditation. It takes so little time and it provides me with balance and a view of life from a totally different angle. When I relax in this way, I gain the understanding that my troubles are nothing comparing to the exceptional beauty and joy of life. I feel as if I float above those worries that I sometimes attach so much importance to. I know that there is so much more in the Universe and I feel connected to it. I love doing this exercise outdoors – in an isolated spot on the beach, in the park or in the forest, and if I can’t be outdoors I love to listen to the sounds of nature while I meditate: I listen to the sweet singing of the birds or the ocean waves, I light some candles and make sure all my senses are involved.
A LIFE CHANGING HABIT
I’ve been doing this for around three years now and my life has changed in a way that I could never have imagined. If there was a single thing I could recommend to a stressed out parent it would be to dedicate 10 minutes of your day to meditation and see what happens.
HOW DO YOU CENTER YOURSELF? PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW
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Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has found a connection to nature in her very own backyard, thanks to her chickens.
- Healing Gemstones and Crystals for Children Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses which genstones and crystals are best used by children to support physical, emotional, and/or spiritual healing.
- A Gardener’s Meditation Andrea at Tales of Goodness shares how she finds peace and renewal through gardening.
- Weeding My Thoughts Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro discusses how nature keeps her in the moment and stops her endless stream of thoughts.
- Grounded in Nature Rani at OmSheSaid shares her walk in nature, and through expressive words, shares this journey to coming home.
- Embracing the Magic of Moonlit Nights Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares ways to embrace the magic of moonlit nights with your children and as a woman.
- Meditation for a Mindful Mama Alinka at Baby Web guides you through her research on the science of meditation, its numerous benefits, and presents to you a life changing meditation exercise.
- The Wild Within Naturemummy at Motherhood: My Latest Adventure reflects on the soothing qualities of wild places.
- Nature’s Lessons in Mindfulness Tat at Mum in Search wants to bring the same mindfulness that comes so easily in nature to her relationships.
- On Manicured Nature: We Roam in Small Spaces Featherstory at The Aniweda Dream shares her gratitude for her limited natural settings and her plans to expand her children’s experience with the natural world.
- Garden (Time Out) Meditation Do you ever need a time out for yourself? Amy at Anktangle finds that during a difficult parenting moment, taking pause to spend a few minutes outside is just the thing she needs to be able to experience renewed patience, focus, and energy.
- Nature Makes Me a Better Mother Terri at Child of the Nature Isle could not imagine parenting without Mother Nature.
- The Healing Power of Sunshine Karen at Playful Planet shares her experiences of reneweal in the natural world.
- Natural History Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets out into nature, 200 years ago, and isn’t sure she likes it there.
- Nurtured by Nature Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares with us how being in nature helps her feel centered and connected.
- Mindfulness and Nature Zoie at TouchstoneZ explores the connection between mindfulness and the natural world.
- A Sense of Awe and Wonder Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the feeling she never fails to get from the natural world and how it guides her to the mindfulness she craves.