Our well-being is more than just exercise, proper nutrition and rest. How we look at the world and interact with it also impacts our health. Incorporating mindfulness mediation into your life will bring a holistic approach to your healthy lifestyle full circle. Meditation at its core is about being present and finding inner peace. Mindfulness meditation is perhaps the easiest to master while offering some significant health benefits. Mindfulness meditation allows one to be aware of errant thoughts as they float through the mind. The object is not to be swept up in these thoughts or to analyze them. It is merely to be aware of each thought as it enters the mind.
As one practices mindfulness meditation, patterns of thoughts and feelings begin to emerge. After a while, one recognizes how fast an experience is judged as good or bad. In time, one can achieve a sense of inner balance and peace.
One result of meditation is relaxation. A Harvard University Medical School Researcher by the name of Dr. Herbert Benson conducted research on people who practiced transcendental meditation back in the 1970’s. He coined the term relaxation response and defined it as “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.
In years since, other studies have shown the relaxation response to be beneficial to our nervous system. Some of the benefits include lower blood pressure, improved circulation, lower blood cortisol levels, a greater sense of wellbeing, less stress and anxiety.
While having these unexpected short-term benefits of mediation is wonderful, most Eastern philosophers would caution there are no goals to mediation other than learning simply to be present. It is not certain if there are long-term benefits from the consistent practice of meditation or not, but one could surmise based on the Buddhist philosophy that says the ultimate goal is to liberate oneself from the minds attachment to things beyond its control would certainly offer a great sense of calm, inner peace and balance. These alone ought to have long-term effects on the body, and mind.
Our emotions quite often get in the way and entice us to judge others, and situations beyond control. Yet those that practice mindfulness meditation find themselves liberated from the chains of their emotions. Their experiences are neither positive nor negative, but focus on a sense of calm and serenity.
Meditation is perhaps one of the easiest things to do and improves with continued practice. To begin, find a comfortable spot to lie down, or sit comfortably. Close your eyes and make no special effort at controlling your breathing. Simply breathe as you would normally. Draw your attention to your breathing, and notice how your body moves with each breath as you breathe in and breathe out. Notice your chest, shoulders, stomach and ribcage. Again don’t try to control your breathing, just focus on your natural rhythmic breathing. Your mind may wander, that’s ok. Return your attention to your breathing. Try this for 2-3 minutes to start and slowly work your way up to longer periods.
Some people start and finish their days with mediation. Finding that quiet center at the beginning of the day of can help focus you on your day in a positive way, and finishing a hectic day with five minutes of mindfulness mediation can alleviate stress allowing your mind to shut down for a good night’s sleep. Find a schedule that works for you and begin enjoying its benefits.