Meditation evokes images of solitude, but it actually can have a positive impact on your interpersonal relationships and interactions. One possible explanation: mindfulness meditation increases self-awareness.
Donna McIntyre, a 30-year mediation practitioner and volunteer at Boulder Shambhala Meditation Center, says, “The purpose of meditation is not to calm down but to become more aware.”
Composure is merely a byproduct of this heightened awareness.
“It comes back to kindness”
Mindfulness, focusing on the present moment with curiosity and acceptance, also has been associated with increased self-esteem, resilience, empathy and overall well-being. McIntyre, who holds a Master’s degree in Contemplative Psychology from Naropa University, says it trains you to respond to a situation rather than react from panic, fear or anger.
“A daily meditation practice, even for five or 10 minutes, helps ground you in times of stress, because it plants a seed, a reminder to take a deep breath and be present in your body before you act,” she says.
For new parents who balk at the notion of squeezing meditation into an already hectic schedule, McIntyre recommends using feeding time to practice mindfulness.
“It may not be formal meditation, but it’s about being there in the present moment. Feel your feet on the floor, how the baby feels in your arms. When your thoughts take you outside the room, bring your focus gently back to your breath.”
Through mindfulness meditation, practitioners also foster self-compassion. They learn to befriend their inner critic, which, while no easy feat, creates lasting, measurable happiness.
“It comes back to kindness,” McIntyre says. “It’s not easy being human or a parent. But with clarity of mind and kindness of heart, you can accept yourself. (Those traits) are inherent in you, and your practice uncovers them.”
Boulder Shambhala Meditation Center offers meditation instruction every Sunday from 9 a.m.-noon.
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