Have you ever noticed how noisy it can be in your own head? A recent study found that our brain produces around 6,200 thoughts per day. So if you feel overwhelmed with the mental clutter inside your head, using mindfulness meditation can help you slow down and calm your mind.
What is mindfulness meditation? And how can you practice it to help you calm down your mental clutter? In this article I explain all you need to know about mindfulness meditation so you can use it as a tool to calm down your mental clutter.
What is Mindfulness Meditation?
Being mindful means that your attention is focused on your present moment. Most of the time, we are lost in our heads thinking of something which happened in the past, or worrying about the future. As a result we end up missing out on the present moment which is all we have in reality as the past has passed, and the future hasn’t happened yet. So as such, time is an illusion.
When you are mindful, it means that you are self-aware and conscious of your actions, thoughts and emotions. It means that you are present in whatever you are doing instead of being lost in your distractive thoughts.
Mindfulness meditation is a discipline practiced all over the world where you set your intention to focus your attention on something specific, for example your breath. You can alternatively choose to focus on different parts of your body so you become more aware of bodily sensations and mind body connections.
After just a couple of seconds, your mind will drift off and before you even know it, you’re already thinking about what to cook for dinner or whatever your mind decides to distract you with. But that’s all part of the process. As soon as you notice yourself lost in thoughts, instead of getting discouraged or angry at yourself for losing focus, simply observe which thoughts arose, and gently bring your attention back to your breath. You are gradually and gracefully becoming the observer of your thoughts, instead of one with them.
You might be thinking that it sounds like a tedious mental exercise. So what does this have to do with calming your mental clutter?
Why Does Mindfulness Meditation Calm Your Mind?
When you are practicing mindfulness meditation, you are training your mind to become self-aware of the thoughts it is producing. Moreover, you are consciously choosing where you want to focus your attention. So instead of getting carried away with automated thoughts which might be cluttering your mind, you can start consciously choosing which thoughts you want to focus on.
Where focus goes energy flow, which means that the more you focus on negative thoughts or fearful thoughts, you are fueling them with attentive energy. You are practically training your mind to become more efficient into thinking more negative thoughts as negative thoughts attract more negative thoughts. While focusing on positive thoughts naturally attracts more positive thoughts.
Each time you notice yourself getting lost in distracting thoughts during mindfulness meditation, you are strengthening your concentration skills the moment you shift your attention back to your breath. You are also strengthening the skill of willpower and these skills need practice just like any other skill we learn.
The more you practice, the better you will get at it and you will start shifting from cluttering thoughts, to more positive ones. By time, you can also experience moments of pure silence and stillness where your mind gets really quiet without producing any thoughts. This is truly a peaceful space to be in and it can result in a blissful experience where you are just aware of everything that is within you and outside of you, a moment where you are just being.
What Happens During Mindfulness Meditation?
Studies have shown that meditation improves several different aspects of our mind and body such as emotional regulation, cognitive function, working memory, social behavior, and concentration. MRI Scans on people during meditation show that their brainwave frequencies go down to Delta which is the same frequency you’re at when you’re dreaming. No wonder why mindfulness meditation calms down our mental clutter!
When the brain is functioning at an awakened state, it emanates Beta brainwave frequencies. At this stage, our attention is completely focused on our external world where we interact with the environment through our five senses. During mindfulness meditation, you disconnect from the outer world and shift your attention to your inner world.
You slowly enter into the next stage where your brain slows down to Alpha brainwave frequencies, which is our imaginary world. This involves the part of the brain which is responsible for cognitive functioning called the neocortex.
If you manage to maintain this stage for a significant amount of time, you can enter into a deep relaxed state where your brainwaves go down to Theta. At this stage, you feel like your body is sleeping but your mind is fully awake.
After a good amount of time meditating, your brainwaves can go down to Delta which is the state you enter when you’re sleeping. Researchers found that the brain can go down to Gamma brainwaves where your brain enters into a heightened state which is also called the state of super consciousness. At this stage, people report feeling blissful, joyful, connected and whole.
How Can I Incorporate Mindfulness Meditation Into My Everyday Life?
You can start off with just 5 minutes a day where you set your intention to practice mindful meditation ideally early in the morning, or before you go to sleep. You can gradually increase the time as you start getting more comfortable and used to this practice. There are several apps and online videos which you can find that offer guided mindful meditations which can be quite useful.
A great way to incorporate mindfulness meditation into your life is by being present in your daily tasks and activities. Whether it’s washing the dishes, reading a book, walking around or having a conversation, set your intention to be present and fully focus on what you are doing. Most often, we don’t realize that even when we are having a conversation with someone, sometimes we get lost in our mental clutter. So practicing active listening is a great way to become more mindful.
Having a walk in nature is also a great way to practice mindfulness meditation. Use your five senses and be fully awake and present, noticing the beautiful colors of nature, the sounds of the birds in the trees, or the waves hitting the rocks. Notice how the wind feels against your skin, and if you can notice any smells in the area of the grass, the soil, the flowers or the ocean.
Mindfulness meditation is an efficient way to calm your mental clutter as you start becoming more present and aware of your thoughts. This will allow you to shift your perception to new possibilities as you become more solution oriented and open to new perceptions. The mental clutter clouds our perception and limits our way of thinking. So by freeing yourself from your own negative chatter, you empower yourself to maintain a positive outlook on life, cultivate a sense of inner peace, and find it easier to navigate through life’s challenges.
Grace Being is a certified mindset coach providing people with tools and intuitive guidance to help them overcome self-limitations and free themselves from their minds. In her practice, she combines positive psychology and mindset modality techniques to help people shift to a positive mindset and create a life that they love. You can contact her via any of the links above or email [email protected] or find her website at grace-being.com.