MEDITATION. BENEFICIAL OR STRANGE?
MANAGING COVID-19 STRESS SELF CARE SERIES – PART 2
I don’t have time. Meditation is a weird fad. It’s impossible to calm my mind.
You’re not alone if you think meditation is a little odd. It is an unfamiliar concept and for those who have never meditated might think the practice seems downright cuckoo. However, there is deep rooted, cultural and historical meaning to the ancient practice of mediation. Learning what meditation can do for your health and how you can easily incorporate into your routine can completely alter your mindset of the world around you.
Whether you realize it or not, you are actually meditating throughout your day. Meditation comes in many forms; as you sit, exploring your thoughts while being somewhat detached from your outside world. When you’re zoning out, fishing at the lake, or praying in church. Meditation is the mental and physical state of controlling your mind to become more aware of the present moment.
ACTIVITY FLOWING MEDITATION
Meditation doesn’t have to be a big formal event; the stereotypical crossed-legged posture, index finger to thumb. It can simply be taking some time to do mindful activities, such as cooking, painting, yoga, or listening to music. Activity flowing meditation can be the perfect way to calm your mind.
Although it has become more mainstream and somewhat of a ‘chic trend’ these days, meditation has been a core element of different religions and practices all over the world for centuries. Old texts refer to the development of meditation in India around 1,500 BCE, with other traditions forming in China and Japan.
Meditation is highly regarded by both Buddhism and Hinduism for developing inward truth and spirituality, although there are fundamental differences between them. Christians quiet outside thoughts by counting rosary beads and Yogis dwell in Himalayan caves for hours of mindfulness. Regardless of the origin or tradition, meditation has long been the foundation of spiritual development, mental concentration and self awareness.
Buddhism: It is believed that as many as 535 million people around the world practice this religion, which would represent between 8% and 10% of the world’s total population. (1)
You experience your entire world through your mind and thoughts. Your belief system stems from your emotions and experiences, which in turn influence your physical and mental health. Meditation isn’t going to solve all your problems or guarantee you a happy life. However, it’s an invaluable tool that can dramatically transform your perspective, giving you an awareness and unconditional acceptance of your present reality.
According to healthline (2), there are many science-based benefits of meditation, including reducing stress, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and addictions. It can improve emotional health, inner awareness and even physical ailments. It can generate kindness and help you find the beauty within yourself.
There have been several studies linking meditation to numerous positive effects on the brain.
- Increased immunity
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered cortisol levels
- Reduced feelings of stress & anxiety
- Chronic pain management
- Improved sleep
- Slowed aging
- Increased athletic performance
- Reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
- Increased creativity
- Improved concentration
- Increased self awareness
Whatever your goal, meditation is a self-care technique that can help you disconnect from outward distractions.
MIND BODY CONNECTION
Meditation can be a very spiritual practice, helping you feel more centred and present in the moment. Research shows a mind/body connection not only benefits mental health but also physical health. Studies suggest that meditation can mitigate chronic pain by building new pathways that effect how the nervous system communicates pain to the body. (3)
Mindful meditation has been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57 percent, and some experienced meditators can reduce it by over 90 percent. (4)
MEDITATION DURING SOCIAL DISTANCING
Unfortunately, social distancing poses unprecedented challenges. Many need the structure of a guided class for focused meditation. Sitting alone in stillness at home isn’t for everyone.
Sign up for an online meditation course or download a meditation app. Women’s Health published “The 12 Best Meditation Apps For 2020, According To Experts”
You can also find many guided meditations online, such as Tara Brach guided meditations.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” – Old zen saying
MEDITATING AT HOME: THE BEGINNER GO TO
The first step is to find time that you can meditate without distractions. Try to carve out 15 minutes, and work up to longer, if your schedule can support it. Doesn’t seem possible? Even just taking 2 minutes a day to start is better than nothing! Do what works for you, whether it is first thing in the morning or after the kids go to bed.
Sit somewhere you can be comfortable and relaxed, if on the floor, cushion, or a chair. Gently rest your hands on your knees or lap.
Simply sit in silence and practice. Holding a purpose for the meditation can give you motivation. Close your eyes and stay focused on your breathing. It might feel a bit strange to sit in stillness and not let your to-do list take over your thoughts. It’s okay, it’s natural that your mind wants to resist this type of silence. When you become distracted, pause and embrace the thoughts, then slowly bring yourself back to your breath and sensations.
Focus on your breath, your body, the lights, the energy. Make peace with yourself and be grateful.
Don’t worry about what you’re doing wrong. Just be happy you’re doing! There is no right or wrong way to meditate. Do what works for you. If standing barefoot in the grass is what works for easement of your mind then do that!
Meditation isn’t always going to be easy or relaxing. It will take time to find clarity and love of the practice. Over time, you will begin to love the wonderful benefits of mindfulness techniques, which can help you to appreciate experiences, even the most painful and uncomfortable. Wonderful benefits that can continue for the rest of your life.
“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” – stuart chase