Mindfulness is a bit of a hot topic everywhere at the moment, but what is it and is it the same as Meditation? These two words often debated but compliment and overlap each other. Both are scientifically proven to improve overall health. They relax the body and calm the mind down, with positive effects on stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, attention, working memory, creativity and intuition. But is there really a difference?
Mindfulness is the same technique as meditation and is the name used instead of meditation which is steep in religious, Buddhism and spiritual context. Mindfulness is related to psychology and does not imply any sort of religious practice to engage in this and this may suit a wider audience of people.
In summary it is the same definition of relaxing and paying attention on purpose in the present moment without judgement.
Is the act of attention on the present moment with what we are doing without judgement. It increases our awareness, helping with letting go of past and present thoughts that flood our minds. It is simple, can be done in an instance, anywhere, at any time, many times a day. It is a specific form of meditation (see below 2 min spot meditation). We can use this when preparing for EPU or before your Transfer.
When you have a cup of coffee or tea, focus on the act of drinking it. How does it feel? Any sensations in your body? Your thoughts and emotions come and go, let them go without judging them or trying to stop them.
Often used together and used interchangeably, it is the same principal of calming your busy mind. However, it is the much bigger umbrella term for many forms of meditation, such as visualisation meditations, spiritual meditations, mindful meditations, movement meditations, zen meditations, transcendental meditations, chant meditations, loving & kindness meditations, yoga, to name a few. The practice is usually over 20 minutes session and with practice it refers to the ability to reach consciousness and self-regulate one’s emotions.
Like yoga, mindfulness and meditation has history predating back over 2500 years ago in ancient times stemming from spiritual and religious practices. Different forms of meditation developed in India and China, in Buddhism and Taoism, focusing on spiritual growth. By the 20th century Western society realigned a practice to fit with our modern society and it has grown in popularity in it’s role of reducing stress and improving one’s health.
Mindful Meditation for Fertility:
Many people ask me, how did you keep going through the many failed cycles. One is hope and not giving up on hope that it can happen to you, that there had to be a way. The other is believing in something bigger than all of us that I prayed. Sometimes not everything is in our control. There are many stories of miracles happening when we have exhausted all physical and medical possibilities as we surrender the control and start nurturing our spirit.
Meditation helps you go within and get back to you, your essence, who you are - which can be very lost through repetitive cycle failures. It is the most gentle and generous practice that you can give your mind and body a break. It requires little effort and it is a space where you will feel peace from your active thoughts. It helps builds resilience to carry you through your journey, this I know. It will make you feel calmer, less anxious, cope better and become in tune with your body with regular practice.
Mindful mediation is what I started with and It is simple. Everyone can do this and with practice this will be your ‘space’ to find peace through your journey.
I have practiced meditations for over 20 years. There are times, I let it go through being busy, travelling, thinking it won’t help. But a loss of a parent, brought me back to this practice. I spent hours, daily in long, deep meditations, doing visualisations, chanting meditations and chakra balancing. I read books to gain knowledge, life seemed to synchronise, and I met people that crossed my paths to teach me more.
In years to come, I would once again stop giving this practice time when things were going well in my life. But it was later when I was trying to conceive after continuous IVF failures that I had to get back to me.
2 Minute Mindful Meditation:
Mindful meditation is not about stopping your thoughts, they will always be there, but with more practice, you will pay them less attention. Below is a ‘Spot’ Meditation that you can do anywhere, and as many times a day. Some people do 20 times or more a day.
This is a simple mindful meditation non-specific. I will take you through a fertility one on my next blog.
The breath is the most rapid way to relax your body. We breath quite shallow when we are stressed, sometimes holding our breath in. This is tense breathing.
Find a comfortable place, sitting or lying where you won’t be interrupted.
Here we want to start with 3 deep breaths, deep and full into our belly and sigh it out on the out breath. The outbreath should be longer than the inbreath loosening up the diaphragm. Pause at the end of each outbreath before breathing in again. Feel that moment of stillness in the pause. Continue to breath now without the sigh as you continue to relax.
Your thoughts will race into your mind, acknoweldge them, and let them go for now. We can return to them after this short meditation, in just a few minutes.
Bring your focus back to your breath. Feel yourself breathing in slowly and out, then pause before breathing back in. With each breath you feel your body relaxing, softening. You may start to feel aches and pains, tingling, a warmth sensation, acknowledge and focus back to the breath. Acknowledge the sounds around you, the smells.... continue for a few more deep breaths and when ready to return to your day, move your fingers, your toes, stretch open your mouth, then slowly open your eyes.
All meditations have a commonness: Relax & focused attention.
- Relax – Using the 3 breaths above. Open mouth sighs frees up the tension in your face and upper body.
- Focusing – is selective attention on an emotional neutral object – (choose an object e.g breath, body, phrase/mantra). Here we are using the breath. Your thoughts and emotions will come and go, it is normal. Do not give this attention, return to the breath.
The next blog we will take you through a more detailed body scan meditation with a visualisations.
Mindful meditation is crucial I believe for the IVF journey or any journey towards parenthood as it is filled with anxiety, anticipation and rollercoaster of unexpected emotions. This is one method where we can build our resiliance and create a calmer space for ourselves and towards our love ones.
Guided meditations are plentiful on the app store, and the web. They help take you through the process by listening to their calm voice and guidance. These are a great way to start your journey.
NB - Meditation apps should not be utilised whilst driving.
Medical Daily. (2019). Mindfulness Vs Meditation: The Difference Between These Two Pathways To Well-Being And Peace Of Mind. Retrieved from https://www.medicaldaily.com/mindfulness-meditation-differences-377346
Mindworks. (2019, May 24). What are the Different Types of Meditation? Retrieved from https://mindworks.org/blog/different-types-meditation-technique/
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2019). Meditation: In Depth. Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm
University of New South Wales. (2018). Mindfulness and meditation. Retrieved from https://student.unsw.edu.au/mindfulness-and-meditation