What is Mindfulness Meditation?
I’m sure you’ve heard of meditation as it’s very trendy these days. There are so many benefits to spending even 5 minutes each day meditating. Meditation helps to calm your mind, lessens cortisol, lowers your heart rate, and reduces blood pressure, all leading to lower stress and decreased risk for disease. Most people think that meditation is sitting quietly with crossed legs, listening to ocean music, trying to train your mind to shut off. The assumption is that the thoughts going through your head will just go away if you can learn to shut your brain down. In all honesty, your brain never really shuts off, so trying to force thoughts away is actually counter productive to your stress relieving activity.
Mindfulness meditation is really just about being present in the moment by paying attention to your breath and practicing longer exhales. You don’t have to turn off your brain as it really never turns off, but simply acknowledge your thoughts and set them aside as you turn your focus back to your breath. Most people who meditate on a regular basis will have hundreds of thoughts that go through their mind while meditating, which does not make it any less beneficial for their health. I know I do as my mind wanders all the time but I still try to devote time to meditation each day.
Lots of people suffering with anxiety, depression, ADD and addiction issues tend to be negative in their thoughts or their mind is constantly racing. It’s much easier for your brain to latch on to the negatives. The concept of negative bias is not new. The amygdala which is also known as the pleasure center uses approximately 2/3 of its neurons to detect negative experiences.
Positive experiences have to be held in our awareness for more than twelve (12) seconds in order for the transfer from short-term to long-term memory.
So here’s a few basic tips to get started:
- Find a quiet place to sit or lay down. Music is optional, but if you choose to use music find instrumental calming music or just nature sounds
- Put one hand on your stomach and take a deep breath in for a count of two and exhale for a count of 4. It should feel like a wave from the ocean coming in to the shore on the breath in and as you exhale, your stomach pushes out like the wave of the ocean going back to sea. Lol, that’s why they call it Buddha belly.
- Just try to keep your focus on your breath for about 5 minutes ( longer if you can.) Try and work up to about 15-20 minutes each day. The key to mastering this is to not to get lost in that thought or that emotion but to acknowledge it and gently drift back to acknowledging your breathing.
We all have thoughts and emotions during our meditation time. Each and every one of us so don’t be discouraged by your thoughts but keep focused on your breath. Trust me, it just takes a little practice even if it’s only 5 minutes a day.
A point to ponder on my friends…
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