Meditation 101

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As someone who suffers from anxiety and anger outbursts, I find the greatest relief when I meditate or practice mindful breathing. Unfortunately, it is also the hardest habit for me to maintain. I’ve embarked on 30 day meditation challenges before to help incorporate this into my life, but it never sticks. I am currently practicing yoga every day this month as part of a personal goal. Since I have been able to maintain that, I am going to make meditating everyday for the month of October next on my list.

I know that meditation can be an intimidating thing for a lot of people, so I wanted to lay out a simple guide on how to make it a little easier for beginners.

First, let's review the benefits:

  • Stress Reduction - it is a scientifically proven fact that meditation reduces stress. Stress causes your adrenals to increase its production of cortisol which can cause disruptive sleep, depressed mood, and anxiety. When stress is reduced through conscious breathing exercises, cortisol levels lessen, you are able to sleep more soundly, your mood improves, and anxiety is decreased.

  • Promotes Emotional Health - Meditation is proven to improve your moods. Whether you struggle with depression, anxiety, or anger, meditation relieves them all and leaves you feeling joy, ease, and gratitude.

  • Improved Concentration - Meditation is essentially concentrating on a phrase or your breath for a certain amount of time. And like any practice, the more you practice, the better you get. The more you practice concentrating on one thing, the better you get at concentrating in other areas of your life. I've noticed that I am able to work longer on tasks at work and at home on days that I meditate.

  • Improved Physical Health - Meditation has been proven to normalize blood pressure, relieve tension headaches and migraines, and increase oxygen in your body.

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Where to start:

First let me say that EVERYONE can meditate. If you can breathe, you can meditate. It's about finding the time, focus, and making it a priority.

These are some of the ways that I have found it to work for me:

  1. If "paying attention to your breath" is completely foreign to you, start with a yoga class. Yoga is a form of moving meditation. The teacher there will guide you on how to begin paying attention to your breath and developing an awareness of your body.

  2. Start where you are. You can really meditate anywhere. But my favorite way is laying in bed, just before I get up.

    • Here's how you do it: before you open your eyes in the morning (set the timer on your phone so you don't fall back asleep), put your hands on your chest and take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your nose. Breathe all the way in until the air reaches the bottom of your lungs. When the timer goes off, open your eyes. You just meditated. Sometimes this method is the only way I get a meditation practice in.

  3. Practice with a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat in conjunction to your breath to help you keep focus. Some of my favorite mantras are:

    • (inhale) I, (exhale) am

    • (inhale) Sat, (exhale) Nam

    • (inhale) All, (exhale) is well

    • (inhale) Inhale, (exhale) exhale

I hope this helps you start a meditation practice and would love to hear your experiences with it.

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