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. Through this mindful practice, the pituitary gland in the brain secretes hormones called endorphins, which result in an amplified feeling of well-being.
People often use meditation for stress relief, but there are many other benefits of creating a meditation practice, including:
Anxiety 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.
Emotional Health Routine meditation has been found to decrease inflammatory chemicals in the brain that can affect mood and emotions and cause depression, which allows for more opportunities to focus on a more positive outlook on life.
Self-Awareness Taking the time to sit alone can lead to a greater understanding of self and how that self corresponds to other people.
Sleep Because meditation settles the mind and body, it is an excellent practice for helping people with falling asleep and staying asleep.
Pain 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 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 to 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 sit on the floor or in a chair - your eyes will be closed for this.
1. Set Your Intention Come to your meditation ready to bring yourself relief, 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 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 an excellent way to keep the mind centered or from wandering.
4. Come Back to the Body If you find your mind wandering, that’s okay. Keep bringing your thoughts back to your breath until the end of your meditation.
This will not be easy at first, but the benefits of meditation make it worth it to keep trying. It does get easier!