We all know the crazy state of the nation right now. There is a lot of uncertainty, panic, worry and fear circulating in our society. Individually, we are all taking steps to keep ourselves and others healthy physically, flatten the curve and resume some kind of new normal eventually. My question is… Are we taking care of ourselves mentally? Some of us have found extra time on our hands and are looking for things to keep us busy, happy and healthy. Some of us are still working but may have added stress and need a way to cope. There is a practice that can reduce stress, increase happiness, alleviate fear/worry and allow you to live comfortably in the moment. It is Meditation.
You’ve heard of meditation before. Sit still, don’t think, just be and everything will be hunky-dory. In essence, that is all it is. Ultimately, it is so much more than that. Meditation can change your current state to be more relaxed and calm in that very moment. With practice, it can also help you change your baseline so you can function in the world as a calm, assertive and collected human.
How does sitting still and doing nothing accomplish mental clarity?
How do you just sit still and do nothing?
External information floods our brains and yields internal struggles and distractions. Our attention is driven by this information. Meditation is an exercise for the mind. Concentration is our mental muscle that can be strengthened by realizing we can choose what we pay attention to. During meditation, we choose to pay attention to a calm and relaxed state. We can begin to change our internal circumstances to drown outside distractions and become more present in the here and now with practice.
Sounds daunting? It isn’t! Meditation is not rigid with rules and specifics. It is extremely simple and only as hard as you make it. Meditation is really the idea of sitting, doing nothing, and being ok with that.
Set 5-10 minutes aside during your day and try this…
1.)Find a comfortable place you can sit. It does not matter if you are in a chair or on the ground as long as you are comfortable. You can even lie down if you want but this tends to make people very relaxed. You are not meditating if you are asleep.
2.)Your eyes can be closed or open if you prefer, just let them relax on the ground in front of you.
3.) Breathe. Breathing deeply starts to bring you into relaxation. Inhale to lengthen your spine and exhale to release tension. With every exhale, soften your body. Relax your jaw and shoulders.
4.) It is helpful to find something to concentrate on to keep you in the moment. Jeff Warren calls it “home base”. Some things to pay attention to…
Breathing: How the inhale feels in your nose or throat
Sound: Hum of the fridge
Feeling: Warmness of your hands
Spot on the body: The point between your eyes, back of your heart, or your belly.
5.) Your mind will wander and this is perfectly fine. Let the thoughts come but then try to come back to your breathing, sound or feeling you are concentrating on. Don’t be upset if you cannot “quiet your mind”. Just be ok with starting over again without frustration.
The more you are able to come back to “home base”, the stronger your concentration muscle gets. This will help us come back from the outside distractions in the world and meditation will come full circle.
- Consider guided mediation through an app. “Calm” or “Headspace” are two great resources and have 30 day introductions to help you learn more and practice appropriately
- Start with 5-10 minutes and build up from there. Meditation is a practice. It gets easier as you go.
- Mornings are a great time to practice to set the mood for the day but use whatever time you have
- Stay consistent and do not beat yourself up about being perfect. It is not about perfection. Just show up and try. Even if you are unable to harness your concentration that day, do not give up. Try again tomorrow
Happy Meditation! Be good to yourself and others!
Andover Physical Therapy
PTC_therapy April 15th, 2020
Posted In: General