In today’s world of deadlines, demands and a general desperation to create more time in our days, in order to get more done, it can be very easy to believe that there is no time to stop and meditate. However, if that’s how you feel than you’re the very person who needs to consider meditation or mindfulness. We understand that for physical fitness, we need to train our body – we can’t just get up one day and run a marathon. The same is true for for our mind – it requires a daily practice of ‘training’ and meditation can be part of that.
Meditation helps you to calm your mind, increases focus and help with time management – in other words, a short daily meditation practice will allow you to be more productive with the time you are given. A simple 10-15 minute breathing meditation can help you to activate your parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for rest and repair) and find some calm.
For centuries people have used meditation to move beyond the mind’s often stress-inducing thoughts. Today the variety of meditation techniques, traditions and technologies astound me, but the core of meditation remains the same: to bring peace to the mind and body and increase consciousness.
Meditation gives us the space to better understand our own mind. We can actively learn how to transform thoughts from negative to positive. It also teaches us how to overcome negative mindsets and plant constructive thoughts. Some people are drawn to meditation by recommendation from a health professional, to lower blood pressure and help with stress and restful sleep. Others find meditation as they’re seeking transformation for the unhelpful emotions they are experiencing. While the purpose and intention of meditation depends on the meditator – anyone who meditates regularly will benefit mentally, emotionally, physically and even spiritually.
Here are just some of the benefits of a regular meditation practice:
- A reduction in stress and anxiety and the ability to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for rest and repair).
- Better clarity of thought or less mental clutter.
- Regulation of high blood pressure (stress induced).
- Improved breathing (particularly with shallow breathers).
- Improved sleep (typically more restful and deep).
Methods of Meditation
There are many types and traditions of meditation. The best thing is to find one that resonates with you. Here are some examples.
1. Seated Positions
Cross-legged on the floor, in a chair, feet on the ground and focus on breath. You may even want to light a candle.
2. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Sit or lie down comfortably. The spine should be straight and your posture stable. Let go of any tension in your body and first watch your breath for a couple of minutes as it is at that time.
Inhale and expand your belly outwards with comfort. When you exhale, exhale completely and contract your abdomen towards your spine. You can start with the same length of inhale and exhale. After a few breaths elongate the exhale and make it longer than the inhale. For instance, count to 4 with the inhale and count to 6 or 8 with the exhale. Inhale with this kind of breathing deep into your lower belly.
You can practice diaphragmatic breathing from a few minutes to 10 minutes daily. Practice it in the morning or before bed time. You can even practice it on your way to work in the train. Know that breathing in and out deeply into your belly will activate your Parasympathetic Nervous System and lets your body and mind relax.
3. Walking Meditation
Can be done anywhere and any time; on the way to your car, the train or bus, in nature. Focus can be on your breath and movement.
4. Meditation Apps
If you are one of these people who find it difficult to focus on a point without your mind wandering perhaps a guided meditation would be best to start with. Some apps we recommend at Chirobalance are ‘Smiling Minds’, ‘Headspace’ and ‘Buddify’. These can be downloaded for free onto a smart phone or tablet.
Remember seeing a chiropractor on regular basis can too help your ability to cope with stress and by improving the function of your spine, brain and posture.