Many of us work hard to eat right and exercise our bodies, but often the mind gets overlooked when it comes to our health.
Meditation, often considered an exercise for the brain, is a great way to focus on the health of the mind. There are many different methods and ways to practice meditation. Whichever one you choose should be what’s right for you – there is no right or wrong. Through this mindful practice, the pituitary gland in the brain secretes hormones called endorphins, which result in an amplified feeling of wellbeing.
People often use meditation for stress relief, but there are many other benefits to creating a meditation practice, including:
Relieving stress through meditation has also been known to lessen anxiety, thus creating a calm space for the mind to relax by being present in the moment.
Routine meditation has been found to decrease inflammatory chemicals in the brain that can affect mood, emotions, and cause depression, which allows for more opportunity to focus on a more positive outlook on life.
Taking the time to sit alone can lead to a greater understanding of self and how that self-corresponds to other people.
Because meditation settles the mind and body, it is a great practice for helping people with falling asleep and staying asleep.
Pain is connected to a person’s state of mind, so by relieving stress and balancing the mind and body, a person becomes better equipped to manage pain.
To start your meditation practice, it’s a good idea to set a routine, even if you are starting with just a few minutes a day. The best way to do that is to choose a good time when you can take a few moments for yourself and find a quiet, relaxing spot (parents, this may even be the bathroom!).
Once you are set up with your time and spot, find a comfortable position to either sit on the floor or in a chair – close your eyes.
1. Set Your Intention
Come to your meditation ready to bring yourself relief, to connect, relax, or decompress. Whatever your reason for choosing meditation, this is what you want to come to the practice with.
2. Relax the Body
Once you are seated with your eyes closed, you want to focus on your breath, and how it is coming in and out of the body as you breathe. Move through your body in your mind and take note of any tension or pain. When you come to this area, stop for a moment and focus on sending your breath to that area.
3. Pay Attention to Senses
Keeping your mind focused on the sensations you are feeling is a good way to keep the mind centered, or to keep it from wandering.
4. Come Back to the Awareness
If you do find your mind wandering, that’s okay, just keep bringing your thoughts back to your breath until the end of your meditation.
No matter what methods you choose for your meditation, the benefits are undeniable. This may not be easy at first, but the benefits make it worth it to keep on trying. It does get easier!