What is all the fuss about meditation?
I have to tell you that I was not a believer in this until about 3 years ago when I was fighting a virus that was so nasty and the doctors could not give me any medication. Wanting fast healing and relief from symptoms, I reached out to a doctor of oriental medicine and started using what he showed me. It worked and before long, the virus was gone! Daily meditation is now a part of my self care and I cannot imagine my life without it.
Published studies have documented the many physical and mental health benefits that come from using meditation.
A few benefits at the top of the list:
• decreased pain
• better immune function
• less anxiety and depression
• a heightened sense of well-being
• greater happiness and emotional self-control
Google Scholar turns up almost 700,000 research documents on meditation, among them imaging studies that show increased activity in brain regions associated with attention, a higher volume of grey matter, and lessened amygdala response to emotional stimuli.
Stress – we all have it.
From daily frustrations, relationships, TV News, you name it, and our bodies can feel stress from it. Our society has trained us to live in stress response mode. Left unchecked, this can cause our bodies to be taxed and weak and prone to illness.
You know how when we are freaking out about something, our best friends say “BEATHE!” Well, it is as simple as that. Breathe. I know it sounds silly, but just breath, it really works. Just one slow and deep conscious breath triggers the vagus nerve which supports balance and immune system function and reduces anxiety. It also triggers a whole cascade of neurological and biochemical balancing.
The Body Scanning Technique
A Doctor of Oriental Medicine taught me this technique. It has helped me heal and changed my life. Thank you to Dr. Steve Templin!
The challenge is to get out of your head and stop the spinning thoughts which fuel the stress response. We need to reconnect with the “felt experience” of your body long enough to take at several slow deep breaths.
Even without fancy equipment, we can feel the results. Observe how a single slower and deeper breath slows your heart rate. This kicks in the autonomic nervous system and improves immune function within seconds.
Try this on your own:
Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Rest your back against the chair. Place your hands, palms side up on top of your thighs. Close your eyes. Start by taking a dep breath in through your nose and let that breath sink to fill your belly, not your chest. This is important. When you breathe deeply the belly should extend. The in breath should be about 4-5 counts. Hold for a count of one then release the breath slowly. The out breath should be 1-2 counts longer than the in breath. The belly should draw in towards the spine as you exhale. For example, Breathe in for a count of 4, hold count of 1, out for a count of 6. Try this 1 or 2 times, keep your eyes closed and listen to my voice guiding you.
Great! Keep this rhythm going and now focus your attention on your feet. Try to pick up on sensations your body is having. Tingling, throbbing, vibration, heat. Keep the breath going and move your attention up to your calves, then thighs, sit bones on the chair. Keep moving up the body, a few breaths in each area. If you are familiar with the Chakras (there is a nice explanation and picture in this article if you need it), you can focus on each of these moving upwards. Feel the body sensations. Root, sacral, heart, throat, crown then third eye area. End with your focus on your hands.
Now gently flutter your eyes open. Become aware of your surroundings.
How do you feel?
Do this for 5 – 25 minutes per day. If you can only manage 10 minutes once per day, that is better than nothing and work your way up to 25 min but even 5 min several times per day will bring you benefit.
At Love Yourself Health Coaching, I believe in progress not perfection. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Give yourself permission to spend these valuable few minutes giving healing breath to your body.
Please share your experiences with meditation in the comments section – I’d love to hear from you!