Meditation has been known for thousands of years to be an easy natural way to help us relax, clear our minds, and perhaps even connect to the universe.
It helps put our brains into an “idling” state such as would be found when we were daydreaming or really absorbed in a calm relaxing activity such as coloring or creating pottery. Think of it as the brain’s “chill zone”.
During this “idling” state our brain produces alpha waves and these types of brain waves are associated with decreased sensory input and a decrease in unwanted thoughts. We feel more relaxed, lighter…..freer.
According to 47 studies analyzed in JAMA Internal Medicine, meditating on a regular basis helps manage anxiety, depression and pain. Those are some pretty inspiring reasons to consider incorporating it into your own life. How do you get started? Let’s go over some of the basics:
One issue I often hear from people who try meditation is that they feel like they are “doing it wrong”. They say they can’t get their minds to relax enough for them to find that “chill zone” and they are always too aware of what is going on around them to fully reap any benefits.
These feelings are very common, especially among those new to meditation. In the early days you will feel very aware of your surroundings and find it hard to let go of your thoughts and feelings and just “be”. But with continued practice, you will become more desensitized to the “newness” of it. It will become a bit more “boring” and you will find it easier to relax into it and become an observer as opposed to an active participant in the meditation.
I also hear that people don’t know how to meditate. The general idea surrounding meditation seems to be of people sitting cross-legged on the floor while they say “OM” over and over again. But there is more to it than that. There are many different types of meditation. Do some research and try different types until you find a way that feels like it “vibes” with you. Once you find a style that you like, commit to twenty minutes a day of uninterrupted quiet time so that you can practice your meditation. If there is more than one style that you like, feel free to mix it up.
According to Dr. Madhav Goyal of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, that 20 minutes of meditation a day is enough to produce consistent benefits. Try to commit at least this much time to your meditation practice, as well as increase the amount of other alpha wave stimulating activities you do in your life such as mindfulness, art, and yes even daydreaming. All of these can help keep your brain in its “sweet spot” and give it the break it needs from the stress of your day-to-day life. In return you will find yourself more resilient to the stress in your life, and you should see a reduction in your anxiety symptoms.
The graphic below is full of information to get you started.
Information Source: PsychologyToday.com
Information Source: Allison Aubrey – NPR.org
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