Did you know meditation has been round for centuries? Today it’s used as an effective technique to manage our minds and provide deep relaxation.
Documented research studies have shown the negative and damaging effects of prolonged stress on our body. Stress causes the body to release the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol which raises the heart rate and blood pressure, weakens immunity and lowers fertility. Being in a state of relaxation however has shown to have the opposite effect. Relaxation produces higher levels of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and the growth hormone which repairs cells and tissue enabling the body to thrive. Studies have also shown women suffering symptoms of menopause can benefit from meditation.
Meditation: the basics.
Contrary to popular belief meditation is not about emptying the mind from thoughts for hours – that’s not possible. Meditation is about quieting the mind from endless negative chatter that goes on in our heads all day. Our negative thinking pattern will often be supported by the emotions they provoke such as anxiety, anger or self-doubt and this can affect our mood. At the core of meditation practice is developing mindfulness – directing the mind to focus on the present moment through breath. The following is the basics of meditation:
1. First, choose a comfortable seated position. Keep your back straight and chin neutral.
2. Close your eyes and take a slow deep breath to settle in and deep sign through your mouth.
3. Gently bring your mind into the present moment by feeling where in your body connects to the surface of your seat.
4. The key is to concentrate on the sensation of breathing:
- Long slow inhale through the nose filling the lungs (for the count of 4)
- HOLD (for the count of 2)
- Long slow exhale through the nose emptying the lungs (for the count of 6)
- Focus your mind on the breath going in and out the tips of your nose or the rise and fall of your chest
- Repeat this for 10 cycles (4,2,6 is one cycle)
5. It really helps to have a focal point. You can chose to focus on the tips of your nostrils with the cool air going in and warm air coming out. Or you may prefer concentrate on the rising and falling of your chest.
6. If your mind wanders gently redirect it back to the breath sensation.
7. Once you feel your mind and body calm, you can slowly return from your meditative state.
Some helpful tips
♥You can set a timer on your mobile for a 10 minute session every day for two weeks and then increase in short increments as your focus muscles get stronger.
♥Having a focal point will keep your mind from wandering and if it does, that’s OK too, simply notice that it has and gently bring it back to your breath – if your mind wanders 100 times, 100 times you gently bring it back to your breath.
♥I promise you with frequent practice your concentration muscles do get stronger.
♥If you are really struggling with the self-guided meditation you may prefer to listen to an app. My favourite app is Insight Timer. It’s free and has an enormous library of mind and body melting strategies.
♥If you have never meditated before, go ahead try it.
We’d love to hear your thoughts