6 Steps For A Meaningful Meditation
Mindfulness is an important technique when it comes to beating daily stress. The simple act of spending time in silent reflection and meditation can do wonders for your health.
When you encounter a stressful situation, your body secretes the hormone cortisol. It's a handy chemical tool that puts your body in a state of "fight or flight", forcing you to act. However, too much of anything can be bad.
When you're regularly in stressful situations, your cortisol levels remain permanently elevated. This state of chronic stress is incredibly harmful for you. It can lead to a variety of physical symptoms like fatigue, elevated blood sugar levels, Insulin resistance, weight gain, migraines, muscle pain, and indigestion. Additionally, it can also cause anxiety, depression, and many more adverse mental conditions.
One of the best ways to combat that kind of chronic stress is through regular meditation. So here are a few ways to get the most out of it.
Get yourself well situated
Meditation works best when you're not interrupted, so it's important to dedicate a space for yourself. Whether that's under a tree in the garden or in a corner of your bedroom. Find a place where you can be alone.
It also helps to set up the location to be more encouraging to mindfulness. Set out flowers, scented candles, pictures of peaceful scenery, anything that will help you relax better on your mental journey.
Not everyone meditates the same way, so you shouldn't be too influenced by what you see on TV. Maybe sitting cross-legged does help you get centered, in which case go for it. Maybe consider doing that on a yoga mat though, or a low cushion. Otherwise, you could find a comfortable position upright in a chair, or even laying down on your back. Before you start though, make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature, you've voided your bladder, and your phone is out of reach.
Start by relaxing
When you're just starting out with meditation, don't expect to carry on for too long at a stretch. Set up a gentle alarm on your phone for five minutes, and then just close your eyes and relax. Begin by taking deep, cleansing breaths, in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth. Allow yourself a chance to slowly settle into the rhythm.
Focus on your breathing
As you breathe, pay more attention to your body than you normally would. Follow your breath as it travels into and out of your body. Focus on a set of muscles at a times as you relax. Attune to the pattern of your breathing and your muscles as you wind down.
Manage your thoughts
It's only natural, especially when starting out, that your mind will wander. Trying to focus too much on "keeping your mind blank" is counterintuitive here. Focus on your body and your breathing, but acknowledge when stray thoughts wander into your mind. Don't chastise yourself, just gently bring your focus back to what you were doing before. Try not to worry about the past or future, instead focus on your relaxation in the present.
Commit to your mental health
It's easy to start a good habit like daily meditation and then get sidetracked over time. We often drop healthy behaviour far too soon because we feel we don't have the time it requires. Make a promise to yourself that you will meditate every day, even if it's just five minutes you can spare. Meditation takes practice to effectively achieve and it's important to not waver from a good routine.
When you start taking your mental health seriously, you'll notice that other factors of your health start improving over time too. Chronic stress hinders your body's ability to fight off antigens, as the cortisol coursing through your body lowers your lymphocyte count. That means you're more likely to fall sick frequently when you're not in a good place mentally and emotionally.
The changes won't be overnight, but as you progress on your meditative journey you'll see gradual improvements in your immune system too. That's why it's important to keep to your mission, even when it feels like you're hitting a block. Keep calm and carry on!
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Aug, 01 2023
Dr. Pramod Mane