About 5 years ago, I took a 10 week course with my mentor Tom McCook, which included meditation as a daily practice. Since that time, I have developed a regular daily meditation practice that I miss on very rare occasions. My practice has made an immense difference in my life and I meditate first thing in the morning for 30 minutes, almost every single day. On the rare occasion that I do miss my daily morning dose of meditation, I can always feel the difference in my stress levels, my reactions and in my body. I have numerous self-care practices which I do consistently, and I can honestly say that meditation is the most valuable one and the one I am least likely to miss.
Meditation is an ancient practice that has recently become the subject of a lot of research. Numerous studies have shown the widespread benefits of meditation on all aspects of health, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
A few of meditation’s beneficial effects include:
- lowers blood pressure and heart rate and improves circulation
- increases production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters which boost mood and behavior
- Can decrease pain and boost the immune system
- Improves Concentration
- Reduces stress/increases relaxation
- Improves sleep
- Increases self awareness
Meditation works best when practiced consistently. 5 minutes per day, every day, will give you better results than 1 hour just once per week. If you can work your way up to longer daily practices, you’ll see results even faster. The best way I have found to start a regular practice is to start in small increments and work your way up. Find an amount of time you can commit to daily, like 5 minutes, and start with that. Once you feel comfortable, you can add a minute a day or every few days until you get up to 15 to 20 minutes a day or longer.
One of the myths about meditation is that you have to silence your mind completely for the duration of your practice. This can be very difficult if not impossible for most people and is one of the reasons why many people give up meditation after attempting it. The truth about meditation is that returning to the present moment when your mind wanders is a practice just like any other. The point is to notice when you’re mind has wandered, and then bring it back to the present. It doesn’t matter if you do that 10,000 times in one sitting. The more you do it, the better you will get at recognizing that your mind has wandered and at bringing it back. With time and practice, this will get easier and easier, you will catch your mind wandering sooner and be able to bring it back faster. After a while you will find that your mind doesn’t wander as often and that you are able to stay much more present and effective in your every day life.
There are many different ways to meditate and I will save that for another post. If you are new to meditation, a great way to start is to pick a single point of focus such as your breath. Bring your entire awareness to the inflow and outflow of your breath, observing it as though you were observing ocean waves coming and going. There is no need to change or control your breathing in any way. Just observe and notice. Are your breaths deep or shallow? Long or short? Is there a noticeable pause between your inhales and your exhales? Just notice what is going on without judgment or attempting to change or control the way you are breathing. Feel the breath in your body, as it enters your nostrils, flows down your throat, expands your lungs and flows back out. Find the point of focus that is most pleasant to you and then stay there for the duration of your practice. When you notice your mind has wandered, gently bring it back to your point of focus without judgment.
© Copyright 2014 Vanessa Naja/Holistic Moving