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quieting the Mind! An intro to mindfulness meditation

In the cacophony of modern life, finding a moment of silence can often feel like a quest for a hidden treasure. Amidst the daily hustle, the mind buzzes with a relentless stream of thoughts, worries, and to-do lists. However, there's a serene island amidst this tumult – the practice of Mindfulness Meditation. This ancient practice, now embraced by modern science, offers a haven of calm and an oasis of peace.

Mindfulness Meditation is a practice that anchors us to the present moment, allowing a gentle escape from the whirlpool of future anxieties and past regrets. It’s about fostering a compassionate awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment.

Beginning Your Journey:

Embarking on the path of Mindfulness Meditation does not require a herculean effort. Here’s a simplified guide to commence your journey:

Find a Quiet Spot:

Choose a serene location free from distractions. It could be a cozy corner of your room, a peaceful garden, or by a tranquil lakeside.

Sit Comfortably:

Take a seat on a chair or cushion, maintaining a posture that is upright yet relaxed. Ensure your feet are flat on the floor if seated on a chair.

Focus on Your Breath:

Close your eyes gently and turn your attention to your breath. Notice the inhalation and exhalation, the cool air entering, and the warm air exiting.

Observe Your Thoughts:

As thoughts arise, do not shun them. Instead, observe them like passing clouds. Acknowledge them and let them drift away, returning your focus to your breath.

Practice Compassion:

If your mind wanders, which it will, gently guide it back without judgment. Practice kindness towards yourself.

Start Small:

Begin with short sessions, maybe 5 to 10 minutes daily, gradually increasing as you feel more comfortable.

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation:

The reverberations of Mindfulness Meditation extend beyond the moments of practice, infiltrating various facets of life:

Reduced Stress: By grounding yourself in the present, you may find a significant reduction in stress and anxiety.

Enhanced Focus: Regular practice can sharpen your concentration and heighten your awareness.

Emotional Resilience: Mindfulness fosters a balanced perspective, helping in managing emotional reactions in challenging situations.

Improved Relationships: Being present allows for better listening and understanding in interactions with others.

Greater Self-Compassion: It nurtures a kinder relationship with oneself, a cornerstone for overall well-being.

The voyage into Mindfulness Meditation is an exploration into the tranquility nestled in the cradle of the present moment. It's a gentle beckon towards a life less cluttered by the needless noise of everyday anxieties.

As you unroll the mat of mindfulness, you unveil a canvas where each breath paints strokes of serenity, each moment is a cherished encounter, and the mind, finally at ease, finds its harmonious tune amidst the silence.

Meditation Can Decrease Stress

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Practicing meditation has been shown to induce some changes in the body by reducing activity in the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight response) and increasing activity in the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response)”. Meditation affects the relationship between these parts of the brain: the amygdala (stress) and the prefrontal cortex (relaxation). The amygdala responds automatically to a situation, and the prefrontal cortex makes us stop and think about that action. Meditation changes the relationship by stimulating the prefrontal cortex and suppressing activity in the amygdala.

How to Start Meditating

Sitting comfortably in a chair or on a cushion on the floor and counting your breaths for 3 min is how I began to meditate (after 12 years I can do 10-20 min woohoo!)

Setting an intention/mantra keeps the mind focused. Examples are: I am calm, I am at peace, I am connecting with Joy, and I love and accept myself.

Inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 4 counts or more allows our mind to focus on breathing

instead of thinking. If thoughts pop up then just finish the thought and let it float away like a cloud and return to counting the breaths and your intention. It’s normal for the brain to wander off and think while meditating so don’t worry that you’re not doing it correctly.

Simply trying to meditate has tremendous benefits. Allow the thoughts to come. Some of my best ideas have appeared during meditation. Counting each breath is really helpful. Maybe just starting with a goal of 10 breaths then working your way up.

A great phone app you will love is Headspace. Enjoy the results ☺ Please share this blog post with anyone you know who is experiencing pain or stress.

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