How to Meditate: A Gift to Give Yourself
There’s no denying that this time of year can be stressful. Learn how to meditate to combat holiday stress and enjoy its benefits all year long.
Have you hit the holiday slump yet? The jolliest time of year can bring late nights, a busier than usual schedule, and an imbalanced lifestyle. Time to do something good for yourself.
Information on meditation seems to be everywhere right now. Mindfulness is definitely on our hot list for 2015. It seems like everyone from professional athletes to corporate leaders are taking up the practice. But why?
Yes, meditation can be a religious practice. But most people taking up meditation today are looking to clear the mind, sharpen mental focus, and boost their health. Here’s how getting mindful can make your life better:
Hush Your Mind // Meditation calms monkey mind, that constant loop of thoughts most of us have going in our heads. A regular practice helps us to feel more focused, quiets the mind, and promotes better sleep.
Grey Matters // A study from 2006 showed that meditation can alter the physical structure of the brain. In brain scans, areas of the brain that tend to become thinner as we age were actually thicker in older people who meditate than the brains of young people. The research here indicates that meditation promotes beneficial changes in areas of the brain that deal with cognition.
Heal the Heart // We know that chronic stress can contribute to cardiovascular disease. So it makes perfect sense that lower stress levels and clearing mind clutter are beneficial to its prevention. The American Heart Association even advocates taking up the practice.
Anti Inflammatory // Getting your zen on can keep inflammation at bay. Inflammation is thought to be the catalyst of disease in many cases. Meditation has been shown to suppress the genes that prompt inflammation. Another reason to believe that our thoughts affect our physical body.
Boost Your Immunity // Meditation may also help to ward off seasonal colds and flu. Studies show that the practice positively affects parts of the brain that help the immune system to function more effectively. So take your vitamin C with a shot of meditation.
Slows Aging’s Roll // Get this. Meditation is said to slow aging. Harvard psychiatrist Elizabeth Hoge led a 2013 study on meditation and its effect on aging. The research showed women who meditate have longer telomeres (protective caps at the end of DNA strands indicative of cellular age) than women who do not.
Because We’re Happy // Certainly not least of all, meditation increases positive emotions, feelings of satisfaction, and makes us feel happier.
Bet you can hardly wait to find out how to meditate and bring mindfulness into your life pronto. Still, who has the time to sit cross legged and chant Om for any length of time each day? Especially this time of year?
No worries. Meditation has made its way into the now. The great thing about meditation is that you truly can tailor your practice to your lifestyle. If you only have a few minutes, take that time to meditate. Some is better than none.
Mindfulness meditation is the new way to meditate. It simply means being in the moment. Focus on what is happening right now. If your mind jumps to past events or future possibilities, bring yourself back to the present moment. Even if you have to do this over and over. And you probably will at first. Like most things, the more you practice the better you will get.
If you have trouble getting into the mindful zone at first (and you won’t be alone) try focusing on your breath. Breathe in and out at your own pace. It doesn’t have to be timed or super controlled. Just breathe normally. Focus on how your breath feels going in and out. Or give alternate nostril breathing a try.
Give yourself the gift of mindful meditation this holiday season. Find a practice for that works for you. Some results will be instant, others will last a lifetime.
Related on EcoSalon
Image by Chris Sardegna at Unsplash