Meditation: Why You Should Try It And How To Start

Meditation is the key to guiding us in the right path with our stress and mindfulness throughout the day. Let's discuss the benefits of meditation and where to begin.

What is Meditation?

To a beginner, the idea of meditation might sound overwhelming but let me simplify it for you. This ancient technique is basically a non-stressful activity that helps you to stay focused and able to calm your mind. A meditative state opens your mind to the possibilities of knowing that you are powerful and free of all troubles** (consider shifting this around). All that you need to do is to sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. This can be done anywhere, anytime. You can even do it in the shower if you find it quite relaxing. Relieving stress also controls the heart rate and blood pressure.

Meditation and Stress

When I started my own meditation practice during my stressful times in life many people would tell me, "Meditation and stress aren't compatible. It's not for me." And my answer was always "why not?" Meditation is about integrating the body and mind to find peace and tranquility. The simple thought of stopping your day and practicing on breathing techniques, becomes pretty self-gratifying. The fact that you are feeding your lungs and blood flow with the essential nutrients needed to continue functioning is the ultimate reward your body needs after a long stressful meeting. Eventually, you won't be able to think about anything else but meditating, as your body craves those essential nutrients to avoid high blood pressure or an elevated heart rate. The most important aspect of meditation is understanding when you need to do it. Being mindful of your stress is the most essential aspect to your health.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a movement within the meditation world that promotes awareness of the present moment. The phrase "absent-mindedness" is what meditation is here to combat against. We all look at our phones and get distracted with social media or other news feeds which were not the main reason we picked up our phones (I'm definitely guilty of this). Meditation allows you to reassess your brain function without second guessing what you were originally thinking about. The reason we often find it hard to meditate is because we have some many other things on our mind distracting us that we just don't have time to dedicate a small amount of time to do it. You actually do though! The first thing you have to do is crack the code in your brain to make it apart of your routine.

Meditation and the Brain

The brain and mind in general are ruled by the sympathetic nervous system. This is the system that takes charge in response to life threatening situations. If you're under attack, and you don't have time to plan or escape, then you fight back using the same system. But this system is over active in everyday situations. You experience the pain, the sadness and the suffering because the nervous system is on high alert. This system not only stresses you out, but it can also cause mental illnesses. That's why to calm yourself down, you need to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system that we rely on to live healthy lives. There are different ways you can activate the parasympathetic nervous system. One of them is through a breathing focused meditation (breathwork). When you supplement your brain with a dose of oxygen through breathing, it's like providing a much needed cool fan over an overheated computer. The wiring in your brain is able to function better, thus allowing you to become more aware of your stressful environment. Another major way to crack the code in your brain is to establish a habit loop of positive sensations associated with meditation. An example of a positive loop is when you choose to brush your teeth everyday because you know it will provide good breath, thus enhancing your social encounters during the day, this makes you establish the habit of brushing your teeth every morning. Establish a meditation habit like how you brush your teeth. It does not need to be in the morning, but establish the parts of the day that are most stressful and take 5-10 minutes to focus on a breathing technique before or after to calm the nerves and establish a level of tranquility.

Meditation for Beginners

At the beginning of a new year, most people want to make a resolution that will make them more organized, more positive and more confident throughout the year. But how do you keep the promise when you have stress and deadlines on top of everything? How do you get to work on time and get the best out of your day? The secret lies within the power of meditation. The best thing about meditation is that it allows you to get in touch with your inner self. When you start meditating regularly, your mind is much more alert and awake, making it easier to get things done. While we all wish that we can have a more youthful and vibrant body, the truth is that the mind is also very important.

The easiest way to meditate is to first disconnect from your stressful environment. I don't necessarily mean walk away from your environment, because some people don't have the luxury of doing that. What I mean is mute your stressful environment by putting in some noise cancelling earbuds or headphones with calming music. Situate yourself in a comfortable position whether that's sitting in a seat or laying on your back on the floor. If you can't turn off the surrounding light, remove if from your environment with an eye mask. The blue light from computers and indoor lighting fixtures can still aggravate how your eye's activate which can enhance brain activity and keep you in your sympathetic or "fight" stage of awareness.

Once you establish your disconnected environment, establish a conscious breathing technique:

EXAMPLE: slowly breath in your nose for 5-4-3-2-1, hold for 3-2-1, breath out for 7-6-5-4-3-2-1, and repeat this 10 more times. If you can't inhale or exhale for the times give work within your limits and continue to build upon that as needed. Try it out and I guarantee you will generate a positive loop of feeling good

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