Over recent years and I would say, even more so now with the world the way it is, and most of us living in a state of stress to some degree, meditation has become an even more important practice to add to our daily routines and I will tell you why...
Firstly, what IS Meditation?
Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. (Wikipedia)
Here are just a few reasons why even just for 5 minutes a day, meditation can change your life, plus benefit your emotional and physical well-being.
Meditation Reduces Stress
Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation. Mental and physical stress can cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines. This in turn can effect your sleeping patterns, it can affect your mental health - promoting depression and anxiety, increase your blood pressure and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking. Research has shown that meditation may improve symptoms of stress-related conditions.
Meditation Can Help Manage Anxiety
Decreasing our stress levels may lead to experiencing less Anxiety. Meditation can help with managing Anxiety by quietening the overactive mind. Instead of buying into and getting caught up in the cycle of often fear-based thoughts, you can start identifying with the silence that exists between every mental action. Through regular practice, you may experience that you’re not simply your thoughts and feelings. (Chopra)
Meditation Promotes Emotional Health
Some forms of meditation can also lead to an improved self-image and more positive or optimistic outlook on life, especially when practiced on a regular basis. As Louise Hay said “It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed” Using affirmations during your meditation practice may help you to let go of old negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive messaging.
Meditation Improves Sleep
Nearly half the population experiences challenges with insomnia at some point, for some, it’s a chronic condition. Becoming skilled in meditation may help you control or redirect the racing or "runaway" thoughts that often lead to insomnia, using breathing to help you to relax your body, releasing tension, which then can in turn, help you to relax the mind. Which then, in turn can place you in a peaceful state in which you're more likely to fall asleep.
Where Do I Start?
There are a lot of Apps for the phone that you can download. Many have paid membership, however they all have free meditations you can listen to everyday also.
Here’s a short list of ones I recommend.
To begin, set yourself a goal of 5 minutes a day, perhaps first thing in the morning to get you going or last thing at night to help you get to sleep. If your mind wanders, don’t be hard on yourself. Our brain is designed to think - that’s it’s job. So instead of fighting the thought if it comes, gently acknowledge it and just let it move away for now, bringing your attention back to your focus. Remember - this is all part of the practice and completely normal.
If you do experience anxiety or have challenges settling in, try to incorporate some slow and gentle movements before you begin, connecting breath with the movement. Or try a short, calming Chair Yoga practice like this one. The flow of movement will act like a pathway, from a busy mind to a calmer state where it will be much easier to drop into stillness.
Give it a try for a few days. I’d love to hear about your experiences below.
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