Much of our daily life is spent in our heads, focused on what we’re thinking rather than on what we’re feeling. When we navigate through life on our thoughts alone, we miss out on a whole world of information available to us through our bodies and spirits. To meditate is to become acutely aware of whats going no within you; it’s about learning to tame your mind so that you can focus all of your energy and awareness on a task at hand. It doesn’t teach you to avoid pain and discomfort but to experience and accept it so you can move through any situation with profound clarity and a sense of inner peace and calm.
Benefits of Meditation:
- Stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system - the branch of your peripheral nervous system that helps your body return to a calm, relaxed state. When this branch is activated, your body can naturally rejuvenate, repair, and rebuild itself.
- Clears your mind for better sleep quality.
- Improves athletic performance by refining your ability to focus on a goal or situation.
- Slows your respiration for longer, deeper breaths.
- Boosts your immune system by slowing the production of the stress hormone cortisol.
Mental and Emotional Benefits:
- Reduces anxiety and depression by enabling your body to balance its own neurochemical system.
- Allows you to make better decision and improve critical thinking.
- Breaks unhealthy habits by helping you detach emotions associated with an action from the action itself.
- Improves self-communication. When you better understand your thought processes, you have more control over what you think.
- Helps you stay in the present moment. When you let go of the past and the future, you live in 100% in the now, which affects all aspects of your life and relationships.
There are many different meditation traditions and techniques. Here are some steps to help you establish a personal active meditation practice.
1. Commit to meditation at least 10 minutes every day (or more). You can set an alarm so that you don’t have to look at a clock. To help make your routine a habit, do it during the same time every day. Find a special place to sit and practice like near a window or surrounded by candles. Create your own peaceful sacred space.
2. Sit comfortably with your spine straight whether your in a chair, on a cushion, or on the floor. As you may become sleepy during meditation, sitting up straight will keep you awake. If you are not comfortable, you will be distracted. If you have tension in your hips and hamstrings, elevating yourself on a rolled up mat, pillow, or blanket will help ease tension and improve circulation to your legs.
3. Use relaxation breath techniques. Sitting upright with a neutral spine, relax your abdomen and breathe quietly without forcing your exhalations. Take the same amount of time with your inhale and your exhale, consciously beginning your inhale just as your exhale ends. Your abdomen muscles must not be constrained by tension or clothing; you must be completely free to move.
4. Select one of the following techniques. If the technique you choose doesn’t work, let it go and try another.
- Choose a mantra (word or phrase), thought, or feeling on which to meditate. Repeat your mantra over and over in rhythm with your breath. If your first choice leads to negative thoughts or feelings, let it go and choose something else. For example: A common mantra is “om” (pronounced Aaaa Oooo Mmmmm), which represents the root of all sounds that are ever-present as vibrations in your body.
- Visualize an object or place in which you find peace, such as a lotus blossom or a quiet beach.
- If preparing for a performance or competition, visualize yourself succeeding; use all of your senses as your mentally act out the scenario.
- Use a guided meditation. Many such meditations are available on CD. Relax and fully listen to each word.
- Use an affirmation card with a phrase that inspires or strengthens you. Many books and box sets with positive affirmations are available. Or you can make your own.
- Focus on a small, meaningful object held in your hand or placed in front of you.
5. After meditating, reflect on the experience in a journal. Write down such things like what techniques you tried and what you experienced practicing them, What were your thoughts and feeling before, during, and after meditating? Also note if you made any headway toward working out questions or situations you’ve struggled to resolve. Finally, keep track of the benefits you notice from incorporating meditation into your yoga practice. These will become incentives to continue.
~ Remember ~ Meditation isn’t always about “clearing your mind completely.” You can focus on your body. You can let thoughts flow through you, but never focus on them. Let one come, let it go, let another come, let it go. You can also do things such as slowly tightening your muscles one area at a time, then slowly letting them loosen one area at at time from the toes up.
Information was taken from my newest book: Beth Shaw’s Yoga Fit. I did copy some word for word, while working some parts in my own way. I also added some of my own thoughts and advice in.
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