My husband loves to call me his “tree hugging, nuts & berry eating, California hippie”. It’s true. I did grow up in Berkeley, CA where my mom wore no make up, I wasn’t allowed to eat meat and meditation was part of our daily practice. Once I turned 18, I flipped a switch and rebelled against my ‘wackadoo’ upbringing. I became a junk food junkie and wanted nothing to do with mindfulness, spirituality OR meditation. Fast forward to today. Here I am – an established health coach that has worked with hundreds of individuals to achieve their health and wellness goals. And I must say, Mom was right. Meditation is a crucial component to total wellness. I now understand that as important as diet and exercise are to our health, as much as I love talking about food, recipes and what to eat, so is the mind/body connection. It may even be more important. Here is why…
Our fast paced worlds are over loaded with work, networking, social media, emails, texts, not to mention family, kids (for some), social lives… we are saturated with the stress of psychological overload. Our minds are rarely at rest and our bodies are paying the price. You finish the end of a normal day and find that worrying has become your partner.
Meditation is one easy way to combat the effects of daily stress, and take back control of your health. It’s been scientifically proven over and over again that benefits of a daily meditation practice can help with a ton of different conditions both physical and mental. Some begin meditating because of a doctor’s recommendation, seeking the health benefits of lowered blood pressure, stress reduction, and restful sleep. Others come to meditation seeking relief from the fearful, angry, or painful thoughts that constantly flood their mind. Still others come to meditation to find greater self-understanding, to increase their intuitive powers, or to improve their ability to concentrate.
Here is a list of benefits I have witnessed in my clients by implementing a regular meditation practice into their busy lives:
More restful sleep
Healthier relationship with food
Benefits of meditation according to Deepak Chopra M.D.
• Relief from stress and anxiety (meditation mitigates the effects of the “fight-or-flight” response, decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline)
• Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
• Lower cholesterol levels
• More efficient oxygen use by the body
• Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
• Restful sleep
Other benefits of meditation may include relief from: irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Also depression, chronic pain, and anxiety. There are numerous well-designed, well-run studies have shown benefits for patients engaging in a mindfulness meditation program, with positive results.
Mindfulness Programs at Work and in Healthcare Facilities
It has also been shown that by lowering stress and anxiety, meditation can be a beneficial practice in the workplace. A simple meditation can become a calming tool for overwhelmed workers. In fact, Google has a very popular program called “Search Inside Yourself,” which teaches mindfulness.
In fact, some universities, public schools, hospitals, and health care centers have initiated meditation and mindfulness programs. Because stress has been connected with illness over the years, the approach of using meditation in hospitals and healthcare facilities is a particularly important one.
Are you interested in meditation but unsure how to get started? No worries, I got your back…
Simple Meditation Practice for Beginners
Meditation does not have to be associated with any religious practice. Viewed as secular and scientific, it is easy to get started.
- Set your alarm for 10 minutes. This is the time you will be meditating. By setting your alarm, you relax and don’t have to worry about how much longer you have to go. You can increase the time to 20 minutes when you are ready.
- Simply sit or lie down with your eyes shut in a comfortable position.
- In the beginning, your mind will wander and bring in outside sounds and thoughts; just invite all of your distractions into your meditation, don’t resist them. What resists persists. Ultimately, all of these distractions will fall away as you learn to focus your mind in meditation.
- Some people like using a mantra, some people like using a word. The power of a mantra is that you can’t assign a meaning to it, therefore you can’t associate any thoughts with it as you empty your mind. A simple mantra such as “om” will do.
- Before you begin to meditate, relax your body by isometrically tensing and releasing all the muscle groups starting from the tips of your toes and ending at the top of your head. Just squeeze and release and check in with your body, making sure that you are relaxed.
- Then, follow your breath. As you breathe in you will notice that the breath is cool, as you breath out you will notice that your breath is warm. Focus on your breath and bring in your mantra while concentrating on the bridge between your eyes.
This is how you meditate.
The Power of Meditation
Through meditation you actually develop consciousness. In fact, by accessing your own unconscious you gather insight into your conflicts, and find the capacity and resources to meet them. In all major religions, the deepest traditions concentrate on the practice of meditation to access the unconscious — whether Sufism, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity — in the deepest meditations, the practice will lead you inside and connect you back to your central core.
Whether it is a psychological journey or spiritual journey- the model is the same: the path to consciousness. In our crazy, materialistic culture, dominated by tabloid journalism, meditation gives you time out and has the capacity to open you to the wholeness in yourself.
Meditation is no longer just the hippie practice I grew up with in Northern California. It is actually part of mainstream of American culture AND a gigantic part of total wellness. 🙂