Hi there, It's Kieran from CENTRED here.
This article is all about Mindfulness. What is it, how do you do it, does it really work.. all the questions you might have, as I did too, are answered at least from my perspective.
I will leave links to really useful resources about mindfulness, different sources for meditation, books I've read, videos, podcasts and so on.
Maybe you have heard of mindfulness and read about meditation but haven't got round to giving it a go so my hope is that this article can shed some more light on it for you as speaking from personal experience I have found that introducing mindfulness in to my day to day life one of the single best things for improving how I feel generally whilst also making me better able to cope and manage with life's inevitable and various challenges.
On the day of launching this blog it is world mental health awareness day. I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that mental health problems are on a rise nearing epidemic proportions, not helped in any way by the pandemic we have all endured. These mental health issues are in line with rising levels of stress. Stress is the enemy of hair growth in that long term emotional stress can cause your hair follicles to prematurely enter their resting phase early, causing excess shedding and in turn, hair loss and thinning hair. On top of this there is also seasonal hair shedding and many people reporting hair loss after having Covid so we know that many of you out there may be experiencing hair loss right now but we are here to help you and to tell you first and foremost to not panic!
How Can Mindfulness help?
There is a growing number of solid science based evidence on the uses and benefits of mindfulness and meditation for helping to improve some of the mental health issues on the rise such as anxiety and depression and it is particularly useful for helping to reduce stress levels which will have a positive impact on not only your but generall health and wellbeing.
First of all, a note on why we focus on articles about wellness and not just hair... Centred is more than just a hair care company. Our mission is to be ambassadors for wellness as we know all too well that you hair is in its best shape, when you are in your best state, mentally, physically and emotionally. This is of course subjective as we all have completely different circumstances etc but what we want to do is help you wherever possible towards your own personal place of wellbeing, whatever that means for you. Even if that is just by using our products and getting a reminder to take a breath, be kind to yourself and practice some well deserved self care. When you are in a good place, the hair that you grow will be in it's best possible condition, and when your hair looks good, you feel good. It's a winning cycle! That is what Centred means to us.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindful.org is a online platform and magazine offering resources, tools and education. On their website they introduce mindfulness by saying - "Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
So essentially mindfulness is directly linked to consciousness itself, the art of improving basic human experience by being mindful of our own experience rather than getting completely caught up in it. One of my favourite quotes on consciousness is by Ram Dass who said “ the essence of consciousness is awareness” Of course there are different levels and qualities to awareness. Mindfulness is about cultivating awareness in order to expand consciousness.
Mindful.org goes on to say - "While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis.Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful. And there’s growing research showing that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually re-modelling the physical structure of your brain.”
What is meditation
Headspace is a meditation based app founded by Andy Puddicome who, after travelling the world as a monk settled in a tibetan monastery where he became ordained. After completing his monastic commitments he traveled back to the UK with the huge yet simple goal of teaching meditation to as many people as possible.
Some words on meditation according to Headspace - "Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.”
I can relate to this statement, from my experience I learned to understand that it is not circumstances that change it is my own relationship to the situations that changes.
Headspace also say’s mediation is a skill that can be perfected - “Learning to meditate is like learning any other skill. Think of it like exercising a muscle that you’ve never really worked out before. It takes consistent practice to get comfortable. And it’s usually easier if you have a teacher. We’ve got you covered there.”
What’s the difference between mindfulness and mediation.
The spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle describes the qualities of mindfulness as being presence. The awareness, and on a deeper level, appreciation of the present moment and all that unfolds within it. Mindfulness is a practice that can be woven in to everyday life. By constantly turning awareness to the present moment rather than being swept away by thoughts which Tolle likens to “time travelling” either procrastinating about past events or worrying about future ones one is not present in the moment as life slips on by.
Meditation on the other hand is generally something you would actively do es a practice each day via the one of the various techniques.
What I find fascinating is that mindfulness meditation is a skill that has been cultivated in eastern culture for thousands of years and most commonly linked to Buddhism yet now we are seeing scientific studies showing just how beneficial the practice is. Studies using MRI scanners to image experienced meditators brans are shedding new light on how meditation affects the brain in a positive way and helps to foster cognitive and emotional processes.
"Mindfulness is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people who have had 3 or more bouts of depression in the past." This is according to the NHS website who also offer a mood survey that you can access via this link.
NHS England describe mindfulness meditation as the following - "Mindfulness meditation involves sitting silently and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, the sensations of breathing or parts of the body, bringing your attention back whenever the mind starts to wander.”
Here is a 10 minute mindfulness meditation provided by Calm -
How to get in to mediation
I would highly recommend just doing some research, you never know it may just be the beginning of an incredibly rewarding journey. A book that I found to be an insightful opposing commentary on mediation, a subject that can sometimes be shrouded in a lot of spirituality and metaphysics which may put some people off, is ’10% happier by Dan Harris. His book takes a pragmatic, no nonsense approach to getting in to mediation and describes how his daly mediation practice over the course of a few years had made him on average about 10% happier, a return on investment he says he finds very reasonable. A nice analogy Harris writes about in his book is that the goal of mindfulness meditation is to “get behind the waterfall”. Asking the reader to imagine a waterfall with the flow of water being the constant stream of thoughts that we all have with the goal being to take our awareness behind the waterfall so we become the “witness of the thoughts and not identified with them”. There's also a 10% happier podcast and an mediation based app that followed the book too both of which you can find on the website www.tenpercent.com along with loads more useful resources and insights. I would recommend 10% for those out there who may be skeptical about mindfulness and want fact based objective and practical solutions.
In honesty, there’s a thousand ways you can get in to meditation and mindfulness. One of the very first times I actively sat down and meditated was at the Self Realisation Fellowship on Chiltern Street. A temple founded by Yogananda Paramahansa, the man from India responsible for introducing Yoga to the western world. You can just turn up to SRF on Sundays at 10 am for a drop in group meditation. The type of mediation taught at SRF is Kriya yoga.
Kriya Yoga is an ancient form of yoga, similar to Kundalini and Chakra meditation. It is a set of energizing, breathing and meditation exercises introduced to the West by Paramahamsa Yogananda in the 1920s. It focuses on chakra energy or life force, mentally drawing it up and down the spine with awareness and will.
This line of mediation definitely enters the more spiritual side of the art but what I find fascinating about Kriya, Paramhansa and a lot of schools of mediation is that they are also very science based. In fact the Dalai Lama is an advocate for scientific discovery, actively encouraging scientists to investigate the ancient wisdom of Buddhist teachings.
Check out the documentary about Yogananda's life called 'Awake'
There’s Headspace which I’ve mentioned already and also Calm who both offer a huge amount of guided meditation content on there platforms. Both of these however require a subscription commitment but they do offer free trial periods which is good way to perhaps try both and see which one you prefer just make sure to cancel before the trial ends if you don’t enjoy it to avoid being charged.
Russell Brand has a fantastic podcast available through Luminary called Above the Noise which is a guided meditation podcast. I Would also highly recommend his other podcast ‘Under The Skin’ also on Luminary. His guests cover a wide range of topics and expertise ranging from authors, neuroscientists, political experts and spiritual teachers. Here’s a description of the shows according to Stitcher
- "A weekly interview series from Russell Brand that examines what's beneath the surface—of the people we admire, the ideas that define our time, and the history we’re told. Speaking with guests from the worlds of academia, popular culture, and the arts, Russell seeks to uncover the ulterior truth behind our constructed reality. And have a laugh. On his new podcast ‘Above the Noise’ Russell guides us all—curious beginners, spiritual skeptics, and experienced practitioners—in brief, 10-minute meditations. Listen to Above the Noise on Luminary"
He’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I have to admit I am a huge fan of him.
For free online resources you will find an almost endless amount of videos on Youtube of course. I like listening to and taking part in classes by Yoga with Adrienne, Yoga with Cassandra and Cat Meffin who all have dedicated videos on guided meditations.
The Mind Explained is an absolutely amazing Docu/mini-series on Netflix covering five topics over five, twenty minute episodes including - Memory, Dreams, Anxiety Mindfulness and Psychedelics. It's a really easy to understand watch and super educational.
I hope you have found this article useful. Please get in touch if you have an hair or scalp concerns by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org