In today’s busy world, many people may find that their hectic lives and responsibilities prevent them from making enough time for themselves to relax and unwind. This is just one factor that can result in people feeling stressed, which affects us emotionally, mentally and even physically.
Since antiquity, numerous religious traditions and beliefs have practiced meditation, which is currently under research to define its benefits. Whilst for many of us the word ‘meditation’ might conjure the image of someone sitting on the floor chanting ‘OM’, it can in fact take on many different forms; such as movement meditation which is any form of gentle movement and could be attending a yoga class or taking a stroll through the woods. The act itself works by quieting the mind by focusing on a sound, image or even a feeling.
One of the benefits of mediation is that it can support our emotional well being as practicing meditation for 20 minutes can help reduce stress and low mood. It is also thought to improve sleep, increase focus and decrease mind wandering. All of which are qualities that can help us to tackle the situations in our lives which are causing us to feel stressed.
According to cardiologist Herbert Benson MD, conditions that are caused or worsened by stress can be eased by practicing meditation. This is because the relaxation response helps to decrease metabolism, lower blood pressure and improve heart rate, breathing and brain wave activity.
The key to meditation is the soothing act of repetition. As we focus on our breathing, a sound, on image or a feeling we ignore our own thoughts and create the biological response of relaxation.
Why not try and take 20 minutes out of your day this week and see which positive effects mediation can have in your life? Like anything else, meditation takes practice so don’t be discouraged if you find it hard to focus your mind and reach a truly relaxed state the first time. Be sure to try out plenty of different techniques and find what works for you whether that’s guided meditation or even letting your mind wander whilst you work in the garden.