Mindful meditation: what is it and how can it benefit you?
To assist with navigating your way to a healthier 2013, Alere Health, the health services subsidiary of Health Net’s Decision Power, and healthwise, offer insight into stress management – specifically, how meditation can help you better manage life’s ups and downs.
Meditation means different things to different people, and there are many ways to do it. This topic focuses on a kind of meditation called mindful meditation, a practice designed to help you unwind and let go.
Mindful meditation is when you sit without “doing” anything and you focus on the present moment. As you do this, you let go of thoughts about the past and the future.
A person often does many things at one time. For example, you may be walking to the grocery store, making a shopping list, and talking on the phone all at the same time. But when you are mindful, you do just one of those things, such as walking, and you pay close attention to that one thing. After you practice this meditation, you may find it easier to be mindful even when you are not meditating, since your mind has learned to focus on things that are happening right now in the present moment.
A glimpse into how it works:
- The goal of mindful meditation is to focus your attention on the things that are happening right now in the present moment. The idea is to note what you experience without trying to change it.
- Meditation can help you relax because you are not worrying about what happened before or what may occur in the future.
- You don’t need any special tools or equipment to practice this meditation. You just sit in a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor. Or you can lie down, if that is more comfortable for you.
- If your mind wanders, don’t worry or judge yourself. When you become aware that your thoughts are wandering, simply focus again on the present moment. One way to do this is by paying attention to your body. For example, is your breathing fast or slow, deep or shallow?
- Meditation may bring up certain feelings or emotions. If this happens, don’t try to rid your mind of these feelings. Just focus on what you feel at the present moment. Don’t get lost in the thoughts that those feelings might trigger.
- Choose a time and place where you can meditate without being interrupted. Try to find a quiet place, but don’t worry if there are some noises, such as traffic. That kind of noise is just part of the present moment.
- When you start, try to meditate for only 10 minutes at a time. Then you can increase the time bit by bit. You can also try meditating for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.
- Before you sit down, remind yourself that you are there to focus on the present moment. This may help keep your mind from wandering. Your daily routine and other distractions will all be waiting for your attention after your meditation session.
Benefits of meditation
Learning how to be aware of the present moment in meditation may keep your mind sharp and help you focus better in other areas of life as well. For example, you may be able to react faster to road conditions when you drive if you focus solely on driving, rather than being distracted by talking, thinking about other things, or listening to the radio.
And of course, one of the great things about meditation is that you can do it on your own whenever you want – no special tools or equipment are required to practice meditation.
Ready to give it a try? Remember that it takes time to train your brain to focus on the present, so be patient and gentle with yourself.
To learn more, visit Decision Power, select Wellness Resources (left sidebar), the Healthy Living Programs. Enter your user name and ID, then navigate to the Personal and Family Health tab. Select Complementary & Alternative Medicine > Related Topics > Meditation to Ease Stress. Feel free to share this post with your clients!
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