Meditation 101: I Dare You!

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November 6, 2013 by Dr. Sana Keller

I hesitate to use the term ‘Meditation’ since it often brings preconceived notions and far-out perceptions to mind—so hang with me here as we ‘demystify’ meditation and learn how valuable it can be to our health—both physically and mentally.

sitting on dock

And before you let excuses get in the way, take a deep breath and keep reading…

If you’re thinking that meditation is associated with a specific religion, think again. Other terms used to describe the practice of meditation include ‘emotional regulation’ ‘mindfulness’ and ‘stress reduction break.’

mindfulnessdefn4

If you’re thinking that you are not physically capable of meditating, think again, since the meditation posture you’re picturing in your head (sitting cross-legged on the floor for long periods of time) is NOT a requirement. Sitting in a comfortable chair can work very well, as you rest your feet on the floor, maintain good posture (no slouching!), and keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.

If you’re thinking that you are not mentally capable of thinking that hard or concentrating that deeply, think again, since meditation is a method of relaxing the mind. This ‘mind relaxation’ actually helps improve our overall ability to focus and concentrate.

Meditation has been found to be beneficial in increasing concentration and focus, decreasing anxiety, enhancing creativity, improving memory, cultivating emotional intelligence, providing welcome relief from our ‘always on’ culture, and helping people cope with the pain and depression often associated with chronic illness.

A 2012 study in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, meditation was found to dramatically lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes among a group of African-Americans with heart disease. Other clinical studies have found meditation to lower blood pressure readings.

What Meditation is NOT–A Short List:

Meditation is NOT just melting into a chair, closing your eyes, and letting your mind wander. Rather, it’s sitting in a comfortable posture with your eyes closed, focusing on your breathing. Slow deep breaths promote relaxation. Deep breathing gives the mind something to focus on.

Meditation is NOT designed to be frustrating. If you find it difficult to ‘turn off’ your thoughts or find your thoughts wandering, just become aware of it and begin again. Focus on your breathing again…slow, deep breaths. It does get easier with practice.

So here’s the DARE: I dare you to schedule a time (or times) for medication into your day. Decide when it would work best for you. Many people find that early morning time works well for them, while others find it helpful to schedule it into their bedtime routine. Set a goal of at least 20 minutes a day—twice a day is ideal. Start out with FIVE minutes twice a day and increase slowly. Find a specific place that is quiet…a place where you will be undisturbed…a calming place. Yes, even YOU have 5 minutes twice a day—I DARE you!

chair meditation

Please let me know if I can be of further help to you in regaining—or maintaining your health. It’s what I do. I would be honored to work with you. Sana Keller, MS, RN, CNC, MH, HHP www.healthunlimited.biz

Photo credits: today.ucla.edu, socialmindfulness.wordpress.com, ziptrials.us

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