Many Benefits of Mindfulness and Vipassana Meditation
The Dalai Lama (Gyatso, Tenzin), the world leader of Tibetan Buddhism, and Paul Ekman, the world famous Psychologist of human emotions, have teamed up to discuss how to use mindful emotional awareness skills to become more emotionally balanced and compassionate. These two highly skilled practitioners have listed 21 potential benefits of regular meditation practice. These will be listed below.
1) Attention and concentration mind training expand the gap in time and space between stimulus and impulsive emotional reactions, thus improving emotional and behavioral balance in responses to stressors.
2) Meditative focus on breath awareness helps to calm both the body and the mind, and become an alternative focus of attention when stressed.
3) The time pause that comes from meditation practice helps you to develop more adaptive responses to emotional triggers.
4) It is suggested that you maintain a mindfulness journal about regrettable emotional reactions in your life, as well as your improvement in emotional balance.
5) Using vipassana awareness of the arising of phenomena, work at catching the earliest possible arising of unhelpful emotional reactions. Stop, breathe, take executive control, and defer to a more adaptive response.
6) Regular meditation practice improves your ability to perceive and respond to the emotional reactions of others, thus improving interpersonal interactions.
7) Mindfulness-based awareness helps you to use your facial emotions to improve emotional issues both intrapsychically and interpersonally. Smile and laugh more often!
8) Regular meditation practice, especially vipassana, will improve your ability to feel emotional sensations in your body (interoception), thus giving you a small window of time to use executive functions to improve your responses.
9) Regular meditation practice enhances executive functioning and weakens limbic emotional reactivity, thus enabling you to shorten time periods of negative reactivity and shift back to your emotional baseline more quickly.
10) Meditation practice helps you to discover the behavioral implications of emotional and behavioral reactivity; you begin to understand how a stimulus situation leads to impulsive emotional reactions. Once you know your strongest triggers, you are in a better position to deal with them constructively.
11) Improved mindful awareness of increasing mind-body reactivity helps you to separate from it more quickly, and activate a more adaptive response.
12) Rather than “I am angry” regular meditation practice helps you to label emotional feelings as “I am feeling anger.” This slight change in verbal description helps to separate your mind-body system from the internal reaction to an external trigger. Anger is arising, but you are not the anger.
13) Learning meditative breathing techniques helps you to use breath as a diversion of attention away from reactive stimuli and triggers. This re-assignment of attention reduces your emotional reactivity and calms the body.
14) Meditation practice, especially vipassana, helps you to become more aware of how to attain freedom from emotional suffering. All phenomena are impermanent, so just wait it out rather than reacting emotionally. Patience is good!
15) Improved awareness in the present moment helps you to better avoid and respond better to emotional situations that may trigger unhelpful emotional reactions. Wise-mind skills help us greatly.
16) If you experience strong afflictive emotions (unhelpful, unwholesome), do your best to shift responses into the opposite directions. This mindfulness skills is much like “opposite action” in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
17) Use present moment mindfulness skills to increase the neuronal power of happy, good, and wholesome experiences and memories in life.
18) Practice letting go of your self-cherishing, and do more to help others improve their emotional experiences in life. Compassionate acts of kindness help both parties – the giver and the receiver.
19) As within The Four Noble Truths, recognize that suffering is normal, and that meditation practice is one way to reduce personal suffering.
20) Along with the joy of meditation, do much more gratitude practices. Be aware and happy with what you do have right now – all those things you may take for granted that are actually quite special. You may want to keep a brief daily gratitude journal.
21) Remember that your thoughts, words and deed become how you impact your own emotions and the emotions of others in the world. Be wholesome and compassion – kind in your thoughts, words and actions.
For more information refer to Dalai Lama (14th, Gyatso, Tenzin) and Ekman, P. (2008). Emotional Awareness: Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance and Compassion. New York: MacMillan Audio Book, CD#6.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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