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Embracing the natural flow of life with meditation
If there were four words to describe all you ever need to know about meditation, they would be: breathe in, breathe out. That’s it. Sounds simple? Well, often, the most powerful things you can do for your mind and body, generally are and meditation is no exception.
You can meditate as much or as little as you want, the point is to make some time for this peaceful practice each day. The simple act of sitting still and being aware of your thoughts as they come and go like waves can do wonders for your mental health and wellbeing.
It isn’t called an ancient practice for nothing
A mindful, relaxation therapy, meditation has been around for hundreds – if not thousands of years – in one form or another. In fact, it forms the basis for a lot of the world’s major religions including:
But you don’t have to follow a religion to enjoy the benefits of meditation as a daily practice. It’s really all about focusing your mind on one thing including your breath, body, sounds or even a mantra which is essentially a chant you can repeat to yourself.
“The word ‘om’ is a popular mantra in meditation because of the soothing sound and vibration it makes when people say it.”
Repeating a mantra as you meditate can help train your mind to stay focused and calm during stressful or anxious times in your life. You’re creating a healthy habit with one little word!
You can choose from a range of meditations to suit you – and your lifestyle
Mindfulness meditation is based on keeping your focus entirely on the present. It’s a heightened state of awareness as you notice your body, your breathing and your feelings in the moment.
Guided meditation is perfect if you need a helping hand (or soothing voice). You may hear a detailed description of an ocean view or be asked to focus on relaxing your body from toes to nose.
Transcendental meditation is a very popular form of meditation which can be customised so that you use one specific mantra unique to you. You’ll also enjoy this version if you like structure.
Sleep meditation does exactly what it says on the tin (!). It’s all about putting you in such a deeply relaxed state while you’re still fully awake and alert, so that you’ll find it easier to fall asleep.
Meditation for anxiety is sometimes prescribed as part of an overall mental health treatment plan. This is because the brain changes that take place when we meditate actually increase our capacity to manage anxiety. These changes can even be seen on an MRI! There are specific meditations designed for people with anxiety, and you can find some of these on the Headspace app.
“Meditation just before bedtime will activate the parts of your brain that control sleep.”
It will also help to:
- slow your heart rate
- decrease blood pressure
- increase the sleep hormone (melatonin)
- increase serotonin.
And if you’re wondering how easy it is to start, the answer is, very easy! In fact, this is a great time to begin a regular meditation practice simply because of the wide range of resources you can access right now, including podcasts and apps.
“A calmer mind is literally at your fingertips.”
The top 10 science-based benefits of meditation
This ancient practice may involve chanting a few ‘mystical’ phrases, but there’s actually solid science behind the benefits you’ll enjoy if you persist.
Adding meditation to your day’s routine can:
- lift your mood
- relieve stress
- calm anxiety
- increase your focus
- reduce drug / nicotine cravings
- regulate high blood pressure
- improve heart health
- increase your attention span
- boost your memory
- help control pain.
How to meditate – and you don’t need a degree to feel the peace
If you can be still for a few minutes, with your eyes open – or closed – just breathing, you’re already taking part in mindfulness meditation. You can do it anywhere that works for you, morning, noon or night – and that’s the beauty of meditation. It’s totally portable and can fit into any lifestyle.
- no fancy tools or equipment necessary
- can take just a few minutes of your time
- choose a peaceful area
- sit or lie down.
Now all you need to do is breathe… exhale and inhale deeply. And don’t worry if the inevitable thoughts start popping up the minute you close your eyes – this is completely normal. We’re living in such a fast-paced world, our minds are constantly playing catch up. So, try not to be too hard on yourself. Letting go of your busy mind is not something that can be forced. If your thoughts come crowding in, gently release them and focus once more on your breath.
“It’s a practice. The more you meditate, the easier it will be for you to ignore your mind chatter.”
There is no room in meditation for judgement, just patience. It’s not a competition on how long you can focus or concentrate. In fact, at the start, you can aim to meditate for three to five minutes. Then, as you become comfortable with your practice, you can increase the time slowly to 15 minutes.
Can meditation change your life?
This is a great question and one that many people have pondered and proven over the years. But the fact is, change is all in the definition. What does ‘a changed life’ mean to you? Is it enjoying a calmer, more peaceful approach to life? Deeper, rejuvenating sleep? A healthier heart and lifestyle? Then, yes, absolutely – meditation has been known to do all these things.
Some people also believe that the ancient practice of meditation is all about ‘making something happen’ in your life – manifesting abundance, a great job, even true love. However, taking the time to really be still, is a way to stay out of the way of what is happening.
With regular meditation you’re helping to clear your mind of doubt, fear and any negative thoughts you may be holding onto. Instead, you’re choosing to focus on a more healthy and hopeful view of your life and a more positive, balanced view of the world.
“The important thing to remember is, be kind to yourself.”
Meditation is not a race but a pathway to a more peaceful mind.
This 1,000 year-old method of relaxation and inner peace is open to everyone, anywhere, anytime.
You can start your day with a little morning meditation or perhaps you’d like to wind down at sunset with a few deep and mindful breaths. That’s the beautiful thing about meditation – it’s your time, your pace, your practice. Do as little or as much as your life allows. You don’t need expensive club memberships or complicated equipment to enjoy the long-lasting benefits of meditation.
You can also choose from a range of styles and online meditation sessions. Remember, the more consistent you are, the more you’ll reap the rich rewards meditation can bring to your life.
As well as mind and body benefits, if you make meditation a regular part of your day, it can help you arrive at an understanding on a deep and amazing level, that you are enough.
In meditation, you’re slowing everything down, being still, so you can move forward, always growing, expanding and being all that you can be for your family, your friends, your professional pursuits, but more importantly, yourself.
And ultimately, that’s what meditation is all about – helping you rediscover your power and peace as you breathe in, breathe out.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.
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