Meditation, Three Ways

I hate to admit it, but I haven’t been meditating as much as I did this past fall. The most amazing thing is that I can, without a doubt, tell the difference. I’m more stressed, more irritable, less relaxed and more self-critical. I have also found my ability to focus declines a bit when I skip relaxation rituals! Heck, meditation isn’t just for pure relaxation anymore either. According to an article in Women’s Health Magazine (“om remedies” – URL below), meditation can actually help you stay healthier. “A study showed reduced anxiety and stronger immune function after just 2 months of meditating for about 30 minutes a day at home, plus a once-a-week meditation class. Some novices produced as many as 25 percent more antibodies in response to a flu vaccine,” which makes you one-forth less likely to catch what everyone else has. So, in the spirit of renewed attention to this simple and self-loving concept, here are some ideas and interesting facts on how to (re)integrate meditation into our days: Meditation, First Way Try meditating for five minutes first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. Choose an empowering and energizing phrase or image to start your day, or you might choose to meditate on a photograph. Since we process our last thoughts of the day while we sleep, meditate for another five minutes just before bed to take advantage of your sleep time! Going back through the day and focusing on and being thankful for all that you accomplished can also send you off to sleep feeling pretty darn fulfilled, too. Meditation, Second Way According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “over time, meditation may result in a restructuring of the mind that allows you to detach from the thoughts that cause emotional swings. It can even have the effect of leveling out mood cycles and [allow you] to bring more awareness to everything you do.” And speaking of Dr. Weil, I’ve been using Dr. Weil’s Mind & Body Toolkit. It’s a great introduction to various breathing techniques that are easy and really can be done anywhere, anytime. The toolkit also contains several guided meditations, one of which is a mindfulness exercise with Dr. Jon Kabat-Zin, the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. One breathing technique in this kit that I love is the relaxing breath. You breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7 and exhale for 8. You can count at whatever pace you are comfortable with. While it takes a little while to get the hang of it, it is powerful. Every time I do it (usually with my eyes closed unless I’m doing it while I’m driving!), when I open my eyes, everything is clearer and more vivid. Sometimes I take in so much oxygen I even feel a little light-headed! Meditation, Third Way This technique is from the Women’s Health Magazine article “Five Steps to Serenity” (URL below): Learn to cool down. To become a pro at letting slights go, you must practice in a calm moment. Visualize a situation that made you stew – say, the friend who cancelled on the yoga retreat at the last minute. Relive your fury for 30 seconds, which is long enough for your heart to start racing and the adrenaline to flow. Then switch to relaxation methods – breathe deeply, unclench your jaw, release any tight muscles. Here’s the key for me. The article says, NOT TO “PUNCH YOUR PILLOWS. Experts now believe such cathartic techniques actually increase feelings of aggression.” Well, I’m a little disappointed I have to say that always felt sooooo good! Happy meditating!
Related Links:
Om Remedies

Post Author: Fiona ONeill

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