The most common image of meditation is one of a monk in a religious experience. However, meditation is actually a practice that anyone can do to improve mind function and overall health.
Meditation has been proven to reduce stress levels and it can even help with conditions such as high blood pressure. Once you’ve become more calm and peaceful through meditation, your life will open up to more opportunities and you’ll find it easier to make healthy choices.
What Exactly Is Meditation?
Meditation is a way of clearing the mind. Once you’ve gotten into a habit of meditating often, you’ll discover that it’s easier than you think.
Some people sit in a cross-legged position when they meditate, but this isn’t mandatory. Another sitting position might be more comfortable for you, but the key is to maintain a good posture. If you slouch, you’re more likely to get tired and feel like falling asleep.
To get started, find a quiet place and get comfortable. Then start taking deep breaths in and out. Pay attention to your breath. You might find it helpful to say a “mantra” to yourself as you breathe in and out. Your goal is to keep your mind clear of thoughts.
Thoughts are inevitable though. The best way to eliminate them is to recognize that you’ve had a thought and then focus on your breathing and clearing your mind again. This will get easier with frequent practice.
When you focus on breathing and clearing your mind, you’re actually centered on the present moment. On the other hand, stress arises when you think about something in the past or future.
Since you have little stress when you have a clear mind in the present moment, you exude calmness. When you practice this often, you can bring a calm, stress-free demeanor to your everyday life.
Stress And The Body
When you feel stressed, you put your body into overdrive. When it’s overworked, it’s more open to various diseases and disorders. Stress exists for a reason; you need to have the hormonal adrenalin rush and increased breathing and heart rate in order to escape threatening situations. It’s simply how you’re able to handle threats.
By always having your mind on past or future stressors, you keep your mind and body in a stressful state even when you aren’t enduring a stressful situation in the present. This is exactly why it’s important to give your body a much needed break from all the stress. When you learn to meditate often, you’re giving your body the energy and rest it needs to stave off exhaustion and disease.
Improving Your Health
The absence of overwhelming stress improves your health in many ways. You’ll likely enjoy lower blood pressure and a strengthened immune system. Stress can also lead to mental disorders, so when you strive to be stress-free, you’ll keep anxiety and depression away as well.
When you meditate, you place your body in a kind of sleep state. You’re still awake, but your body can begin to repair itself in the same way that it does when you sleep. If you meditate in the morning or at night, you can help yourself transition from sleeping to wakefulness and vice versa.
Meditation is the ultimate exercise for a healthy mind and body. You’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated once you’ve given it a try. Who knew that “just sitting” could be so helpful!
I would love to give you a free resource sheet to support your quest for a healthy mindset. Click the button below to receive your gift.
I really wanted to talk about this topic today because I wanted to share some lifestyle-based strategies to improve your overall mindset and mental health, which in turn improves your life. You must do the internal work to improve your overall health. You can do this by learning what motivates you and working each day on improving your mindset. Your thoughts control your feelings, which controls your behavior. You can cultivate certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
If you are familiar with my approach, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle modifications, such as stress reduction and mindfulness exercises, can help you feel better about yourself and your life. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy.
Tools For Motivation And Mindset
Although you don’t need a cushion to meditate, you may want to consider using one at some point. You could meditate in a chair, or simply sit on the floor if you want. You can also use pillows or cushions from your furnishings to try out. Cushion, chair, bench, floor – it’s all good. Eventually, though, if you’re not sitting upright on a chair, you’ll probably do well to buy a dedicated meditation cushion. The cushion will support your sitting posture and help you create an appealing mindfulness corner that will encourage you to practice every day. I recommend this meditation cushion and mat bundle.
If you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can be a great idea. Even if you don’t have these conditions, journaling can enhance your life in many ways. Having difficulty processing your thoughts and emotions? Journaling can help clear that mental clutter and move towards a positive mindset. Research suggests that keeping a journal can have positive impacts on both mental and physical health. So, to start you on your journey, I recommend this self care journal.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet, regular physical activity, meditation and mindfulness, as well as healthy and supportive relationships are the best ways to support mental health. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
PPS. If you or someone you know is experiencing severe stress, anxiety, depression and/or other mental health issues, please contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889. This is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
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