by Lindsay Adams
“I tried meditation once. I think I was doing it wrong. My mantra was ‘Ohhhhmmmm my gosh, I’ve got so much to do I can’t believe I am sitting here wasting time breathing instead of picking up my dry cleaning and making flight plans for next week and…hey, my chest hurts… maybe I should call a doctor…’”
Sound familiar? Quieting the mind is no small task, especially considering all of the unexpected challenges and heightened anxiety of the past several months. The practice of mindful meditation has been around for thousands of years, and there is much research to support its benefits. According to The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditation may:
- Help reduce high blood pressure
- Be helpful in pain management
- Help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Lessen the awake time for those who suffer from insomnia
Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, as well as enhancing overall health and well-being. Many people say that prayer is when you talk to your Higher Power, and meditation is when you listen. Along with its long list of benefits comes its ease of practice. Meditation is literally something that everyone can do, no matter your age or physical condition. Also, with no equipment needed by you, it is easy to meditate anywhere!
In addition to helping overall physical wellness, meditating daily can bring greater awareness of self, and the world around you, helping to increase your capacity for gratitude and living in the present. The benefits of increased mindfulness are numerous. When we are more mindful, we can stay more in the present and to truly see the goodness all around us. We can operate in a less hurried state, reducing stress in our lives, and the lives of those we love.
Starting a daily meditation practice is easy. Begin by finding a quiet place, away from distractions. You will want to sit comfortably with your feet on the floor and your hands resting gently on your lap. As you begin your time in meditation, the purpose is to completely relax and almost sink into yourself, or “go within”. The key is concentrating on your breathing and letting that be what centers you.
There are several helpful apps you can get to help guide you through specific meditations, or provide centering thoughts or mantras as you enjoy your stillness. Mantras are simply words or phrases that you repeat in your head to focus your practice. Insight Timer, Headspace, and Daily OM are all three great apps that all offer a variety of features. I prefer Insight Timer because it has a variety of free options that also include music, as well as tons of upgrade options as well. An app can be very helpful, especially if you are a beginner, or if you are looking to expand your meditation practice and focus on specific things, like gratitude, or abundance for example.
The most important thing to do it to just begin. Don’t get caught up in the “woo woo” aspect of meditation. Don’t worry about what others may think (especially if this is really out of your comfort zone!). They are most likely to be in awe of your new, more centered and present self, and who knows…they may give it a try themselves! Also, keep in mind that meditation is a practice, so it is helpful if you carve out a little time each day. For many, the start of the day will be best, but for others, the sleep benefits of meditating right before bedtime will work better. In no time, you will most likely come to look forward to this little piece of quiet time each day.
Remember that with any self-care practice, the benefits go way beyond ourselves to all of the people that we come in contact with during the day. What we give to ourselves, we essentially give to our partners, children, pets, co-workers, and the world. If that’s more love, compassion, gratitude, and understanding, then you guessed it, that’s what we will give to others. And what a beautiful offering that will be. Good luck and namaste.
Lindsay Adams is a Firestone resident, blogger, and wellness resource for those seeking to bloom in their next chapter of life. Check out livingwellwithlinds.com for more great topics.