Weekly Wellness: Time for a meditation vacation
COLUMBIA - What if I told you that there was a medication that would give you the ability to gain a new perspective on a stressful situation? It could help you to build skills to help to manage stress. It could increase self-awareness. This magic medication could also have the potential to help with anxiety disorders, asthma, cancer, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, pain and sleep problems.
What if I told you that this medication was free?
What if I told you that this medication were not a pill nor a potion?
What if I told you this medication were... meditation?
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. It was originally meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine.
The Mayo Clinic defines meditation as "an umbrella term for the many ways to a relaxed state of being." During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. When you meditate, you clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858)
There are different types of meditation: guided meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, Qi gong, Tai chi, Transcendental meditation, and yoga, to name a few.
Depending upon the type of meditation being practiced, different features can help you to meditate. Things like focused attention, relaxed breathing, a quiet setting, and a comfortable position.
The Mayo Clinic suggests some ways you can practice meditation on your own, whenever you choose:
- Breathe deeply. This technique is good for beginners because breathing is a natural function.
- Focus all attention on your breathing. Breathe deeply and slowly. When your attention wanders, gently return your focus to your breathing.
- Scan your body. Focus attention on different parts of your body. Become aware of your body's various sensations, whether that's pain, tension, warmth or relaxation.
- Repeat a mantra. You can create your own mantra, whether it's religious or secular.
- Walk and meditate. Combining a walk with meditation is an efficient and healthy way to relax. You can use this technique anywhere you're walking. Slow down the pace of walking so that you can focus on each movement of your legs or feet. Concentrate on your legs and feet, repeating action words in your mind such as lifting, moving and placing as you lift each foot; move your leg forward and place your foot on the ground.
- Engage in prayer. Prayer is the best known and most widely practiced example of meditation.
- Read and reflect. Many people report that they benefit from reading poems or sacred texts, and taking a few moments to quietly reflect on their meaning.
- Focus your love and gratitude. In this type of meditation, you focus your attention on a sacred object or being, weaving feelings of love, compassion and gratitude into your thoughts. You can also close your eyes and use your imagination or gaze at representations of the object.
So the next time you find yourself stressing out, find a quiet corner, sit comfortably, close your eyes and repeat one of these popular modern mantras:
- "Love is the only miracle there is." - Osho
"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi
"Every day in every way I'm getting better and better." - Laura Silva
"I change my thoughts, I change my world." - Norman Vincent Peale
Or come up with your own.
Your challenge is to meditate at least 5 times per week for 5 minutes. Take some quality time for you... if even for a few minutes a day.