To honor the work being made in the field, it is equally important to highlight the initiatives for mental health. Such initiatives act as catalysts and motivate other organisations or universities to start with similar programs. A mindfulness meditation institute for workers is about to be built at Jadavpur University in Kolkata. It may also serve the requirements of students who need help handling stress. The teaching profession is highly demanding and poses noticeable emphasis on stress and mental health issues among the staff. The director and registrar highlighted the significance of mindfulness meditation. They expressed concern about suffering alone and hesitation in sharing the things one has been going through.
Meditation is the process of training the mind to concentrate on a single object or thought that connects one with a higher power. When we learn single-pointed focus through meditation, it temporarily separates us from the world that is perceived through the senses. The question that now arises is, how is this helpful? When we are constantly processing cues and stimuli from the external environment. We lose touch with the strongest voice: the voice of intuition. The sixth sense or voice of intuition is heard when the five senses are silent. The first step that most of the methods will use is to focus on the breath. This practice calms the mind which enables us to process the solutions that are otherwise inaccessible due to constant worry or tension.
Multiple methods and techniques are used to learn the science and practice of meditation. One of them is mindfulness meditation which focuses on experiencing the here and now or the present moment. Mindfulness meditation is about attending to breathing, physical sensations, and thoughts without any judgement. It works to calm down the myriad of thoughts that seem to be never-ending and allows one to experience positive emotions by letting go of negative ones. When the focus is on the moment, the breath and heart rate slow down generating a calm breeze of peace and silence. Two major applications of mindfulness practice in therapy are mindfulness-based stress reduction (MSBR) and Mindfulness-based cognitive behaviour therapy (MBCT).
A review by Harvard University revealed that 80% of visits to the doctor were associated with stress-related health problems. A study by Harvard researchers found that people attending any relaxation problems were 43% less likely to use medical services. It also explained that 10-15 minutes of mindfulness skills practised consistently is more important than not being able to squeeze in half an hour or one-hour sessions. Another study found that relaxation response can temporarily alter the activity of some genes which can be helpful for overall health.
How to Incorporate Mindfulness in Everyday Life
When we focus on breathing and calm the restless thoughts, we learn to separate ourselves from the worries and concerns that preoccupy the mind to get in touch with inner potential capable of immense concentration, creativity and spiritual growth. Here are a few ways to practise mindfulness:
Attend to your breath: Inculcate a habit of noticing the pattern of your breath throughout the day particularly when you feel intense emotions. Recognise it and consciously focus on making the breath deep and long. This practice calms the heart rate and provides more clarity to process the ongoing events in the mind.
Guided meditations: Before bedtime or after waking up, dedicate 15-20 minutes to your mind. The mind governs the entire body so taking out time for mental health needs to be prioritised. Meditation applications and YouTube videos provide a range of options to start with.
Relaxing the body: Lie down on a mat or sit on a chair, close your eyes and scan your body from toe to head. Try to feel the sensations in each body part and release it as you exhale.
While these practices are just a few ways to practise it on an everyday basis. You may try out a mindfulness-based meditation program that involves gradual steps to learn the practice. Accumulated stress from hassles and routine problems has the potential to manifest as intense psychological issues over time. Chronic stress leads to the overproduction of the hormone cortisol which can affect the health of the brain and immune system. Before reaching that peak point, it becomes imperative to adopt adequate coping strategies and learn to work through the problems. Mediation practices inculcate equanimity and respond consciously to the demands of the external environment.