Mindfulness Through Meditation
You wake up with the day’s to-do list racing through your head but can’t seem to get any of the tasks done. You had the car keys just a minute ago and now you don’t know where they are. You grab a takeaway coffee and leave it on the roof of your car then drive away, completely oblivious. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? How about struggles with stress, anxiety or overwhelming emotions? Mindfulness could be the answer. September 12 is Mindfulness Day and Coastbeat spoke to Byron Bay Vedic Meditation teacher Tiffany Jackson about the vital role meditation can play in its development.
Mindfulness is the practice of consciously focusing on the present moment and observing what’s going on, both internally and externally, without judgement. It’s finding stillness and noticing what we see, hear, feel and taste then engaging with that experience. It sounds like such a simple act, but mindfulness can have a profound effect. It can help us to alleviate stress, regulate emotions, make better decisions and fully participate in life. Meditation is one of the most effective ways of developing mindfulness.
“We have so many thoughts in a day and most of us are thinking about something that has happened in the past or something that will happen in the future, very rarely are we focussed on the task at hand or the conversation we’re having,” explains Vedic Meditation teacher Tiffany Jackson. “Meditation is the practice that allows you to become more mindful.”
Tiffany was working a high-pressure job in publishing and had tried a plethora of wellness techniques and treatments including yoga, Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Struggling with extreme insomnia, she contacted Vedic Meditation teacher Tim Brown who explained the practice. Tiffany began to integrate meditation and instantly experienced an improvement in her sleep. Gradually, she noticed that she no longer relied on alcohol or coffee to cope with the stresses of daily life.
“Meditation is the process of systematically removing stress, tension and fatigue from our nervous system,” Tiffany explains. “When we do that, we’re taking ourselves from our sympathetic nervous system – which is the middle part of our brain, the fight or flight response – to our parasympathetic nervous system which is really meant to be our natural state.”
There are many different forms of meditation on offer and Tiffany agrees it can be confusing but she urges people to find what works for them and stick with it.
“Some people really enjoy using an app on their phone, but I find having a teacher makes a big difference,” she says. “If you’re working with someone who is showing you how to integrate meditation into your day, giving you refinements, teaching you about what it’s doing to your brain and physiological state, I believe you’re more inclined to continue with it.”
Tiffany emphasises that meditation is beneficial for everyone, including children and teenagers.
“It helps with anxiety and makes teenagers so much more internally aware of what they want rather than what other people want,” she says. “Finding a place they can come to for some stillness and to recharge their brain is really important.”
Scientific research shows that meditation offers many potential benefits to children including improvement in attention, cognitive function and mindfulness. Professor Anne Graham from Southern Cross University’s Centre for Children and Young People has studied the implementation of Christian meditation in Catholic schools. In student focus groups and teacher interviews, this form of meditation was described as having a calming and centring effect on the vast majority of students. This offered immediate benefits to student wellbeing. Some students said it helped them concentrate on their schoolwork. This benefit was mainly experienced immediately after meditating.
If reducing stress is the goal or you just want to learn to appreciate and participate in the present moment, September 12 is the perfect day to explore or commit to meditation and the pursuit of mindfulness. Happy Mindfulness Day!
Follow Tiffany Jackson on Instagram.
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