In 2012, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reported that over 18 million American's meditate. So, what's it all about?
What is meditation?
During meditation an individual focuses their mind on a particular object or thought. This trains the attention and awareness, creating a calm state. Meditation is a very personal activity, it’s a way for you to connect with your Soul and inner voice. If relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often a result.
In 1970, Herbert Benson, a researcher at Harvard University, coined the term “relaxation response" -after conducting research on people who practiced transcendental meditation. In Benson’s words, the relaxation response causes a reduction in the activity of our sympathetic nervous system. -This is the same system that activates our fight or flight response.
What isn’t meditation?
It’s not all about dreadlocks and magic mushrooms. It’s not about changing who you are, your thoughts or feelings. It’s about offering a way to create balance and perspective. Our thoughts are erratic. Without taking time to listen to them we end up in knots. We begin panicking that we have too many things to do and not enough to do them. Observing our thoughts helps us to understand ourselves. In the same way as going to the gym creates a stronger body, meditation builds a stronger mind.
5 Reasons to meditate…..
1 Meditation promotes in peace and a sense of wellbeing.
2 It allows you to connect to your intuition and your surroundings. Meditation can help communication between your body and brain
3 It can lift a mental block or cloud and will help you to make more balanced decisions.
4 It lowers blood pressure, improves circulation and lower the heart rate.
5 Meditation helps with Seasonal affective disorder / anxiety and depression
How to meditate- for beginners:
It’s worth noting that meditation takes practice. If you are new to meditation, you will often become distracted. That’s not a problem. It will help if you begin with 2 minute meditations, increasing duration as you become more skilled. Meditation is about practicing being peaceful, not being perfect. To enjoy meditation It’s important to find a space where distractions are minimal. Sitting or laying on the ground is fine:
To begin with keep eyes open, focus on one spot, something small, the other side of the room is helpful.
Take one long breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.
While breathing out, close your eyes.
Take a moment to pause and enjoy being present in the moment. Be aware the pressure of your body beneath you, the feet on the floor and the hands and the arms resting on the legs.
Focus on your breathing and notice the breath, chest rising as you inhale, falling as you exhale.
If your mind has wandered to other thoughts or sounds bring the focus back to your breathing.
Bring the attention back to your body and the space around you. Then open your eyes again.
Take a moment to soak in how that felt for you before continuing your day.
If you are feeling overloaded, stressed, anxious or struggling to make decisions daily, the answer may lie in taking a “Time out” - Take the foot off of the pedal and use the steps above to experiment with meditation. Maybe meditation is the missing piece to your jigsaw. Begin by implementing steps 1 to 8 and begin meditating for two minutes at a time, increasing to around 20 minutes when you have the time. As with all things, health related the benefits will come as your consistency increases.
Do you like to meditate? How does it help you? -We’d love to hear!