If you've been looking for a way to effectively relax your mind and your body, then you may want to try meditation. When you hear the word, you may suddenly feel anxious. For some, meditation sounds quite intimidating; something that seems difficult to do. Images of sitting in complete stillness for long periods of time while thinking of nothing sounds like an impossible task. Yes, it takes years of experience to achieve that level of practicing meditation. But if you're new to meditation, there are some simple yet approachable ways to start.
1. What Is Meditation?
Meditation is something that can be done by anyone: athletes, lawyers, parents, children, adults. It is essentially an exercise intended to increase your mental awareness and focus your attention. It helps to calm a racing mind and reduces worrisome stress and anxiety.
Further, it helps to relax tense and sore muscles in your body. When one engages in this mindfulness work, your psychological and physiological well-being significantly improve.
2. How Does Meditation Help You Relax?
When you're feeling stressed, a common experience by many, the body and brain react in a certain way. When the body perceives danger, it prepares itself to react to keep you safe. For example, your muscles may tighten, your heart races, your pupils dilate, and adrenaline rushes through your blood stream. It is getting ready to flee from the danger or prepare to fight against it. This is the "fight or flight" response. Although a normal physiological reaction, when the body is constantly perceiving danger, the stress response endures. This, unfortunately, is not ideal for your health. A constant racing heart can lead to high blood pressure, tension headaches, lack of sleep, muscle soreness, and other illnesses.
One needs to find ways to reduce this common response so the homeostasis of the body can return. This is where meditation can help. Research has shown that the act of mindfulness meditation slows down your heart rate, eases your racing thoughts, and relaxes your tight muscles. It can also help you think more clearly, problem-solve better, and improve your concentration.
There are many ways to meditate. Common practices certainly involve sitting in a quiet space allowing the mind and body to feel more at ease. But this isn't the only way to meditate. Generally in a meditation practice, you are actually focusing on one object. This might be your breath, a candle flame, the leaves on a tree, a favorite song. The list is endless as to what you can use to help with your practice.
Focusing on your breath is a popular way to begin a meditation practice. If you sit comfortably for a few minutes and focus on each inhale and each exhale, this a form of meditation. When you take slow deep breaths, it turns your attention away from the worldly distractions and directs them inward. It allows you to ease your racing mind and fully relax.
It only takes a few minutes (even just a few seconds) to effectively do this practice. Over time and with more practice, you will be able to sit longer to reap the benefits of the meditative practice.
You can also meditate while walking. Take a nice walk in a park or down the block. Pay attention to the sound of your feet hitting the pavement, the sound of nature around you, or glance at the beautiful scenery.
These are ways to integrate positive thoughts into your worried mind. Just like the breathing practice, it helps you feel more calm and reduces the stress response.
Another way to meditate is to listen to your favorite music. Whether your'e on a bike ride, taking a walk, or sitting comfortably in your home, play some music that makes you feel good. It does not necessarily need to be relaxing music, just something that you enjoy and makes you feel good. The idea is to allow your body and mind to indulge in feelings and activities that are geared toward relaxation and a positive mindset.
So, if you're wanting to begin a meditative practice, try any one of these techniques. After a week or so, notice the changes in your mood and health. Meditation is a great resource for providing you a pathway to a healthy well-being.
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