The One Habit That Can Change Your Life!
One of the pillars to living a healthy lifestyle is recognizing the mind body connection. Your emotions, clarity of mind and stress levels all play a pivotal role in the health of your physical body. In last month’s newsletter (see the blog post here) I included a section about the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. One of the 7 “SAVERS” Elrod pointed out is “Silence” whereby he stresses the importance of sitting in silence or meditation for a few minutes each day. You can’t pick up a magazine or browse the web without stumbling across an article touting the enormous health benefits of meditation. Science has shown that meditation can reduce stress, aid mental clarity, regulate mood, reduce anxiety & depression and even cure sickness.
Before I began my meditation practice a few years ago, I was stressed out. I was having panic attacks on a weekly basis, and had a fuse shorter than Kanye in a twitter rant. When my doctor first suggested beginning a meditation practice, I thought, “I can’t sit still that long” and “How can I stop my brain from going 100 miles per hour?” I couldn’t fathom how anyone could even find time to sit still daily. My first couple attempts were difficult. My mind kept wandering, I got bored, frustrated, I even cried. And then I tried again. I haven’t had a panic attack following that first week. When I am consistent I feel calmer, happier and I rarely get stressed out. I’m certainly not suggesting that everyone will have the same experience – we are all individuals after all, but I am suggesting that it’s worth a shot.
There are many different forms of meditation out there and a quick google search can help you decide which is right for you. Some people prefer guided meditation as opposed to doing it on their own. It may be easier when you first start out to follow someone else’s lead. That’s how I started. There are some really great programs out there including apps to help guide you. (I use OMG Meditate and Headspace.) Here’s a simple way to get started now.
1. Start slowly. If you find the task of setting aside twenty minutes each day to meditate daunting, start with just 5 minutes and increase the time slowly. You’ll find a “sweet spot” that works for you over time.
2. Find a quiet place. You don’t need a fancy meditation room. You can simply find an area of your home or outdoors that has limited distractions. I prefer going to the beach but often end up doing it in my car – not while driving of course! Sit comfortably with your spine straight. You don’t have to contort yourself into a pretzel to do this.
3. Breathe. Focus your attention on your breath. Breathe in slowly, out slowly, taking a little longer to exhale. Once you create a pattern that’s comfortable for you, stop trying to control it and just observe it.
4. Be gentle. If you find your mind wandering, that’s okay, simply bring your awareness back to your breath and focus on your breathing. A noise, a thought, or a small child may distract you, acknowledge it and let it go. (Well maybe not the child).
5. Repeat. Practice makes perfect! The more you meditate the easier it will become a habit. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
There are many benefits of meditation that can be scientifically backed and many I, myself can attest to. A client of mine recently began a regular meditation practice at my urging and has also had great success! (Shout out to you, A!) My practice is not perfect (that’s why they call it practice!) I sometimes go a couple of weeks without meditating and believe me – I feel it! I start to forget things, I don’t sleep well and I feel less motivated to complete daily tasks. Then I simply remind myself that it’s okay and begin again.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with meditation. Did you try the one above? A different form? Send me an email and tell me about it!