What is the deal with mediation? It simply means to think, ponder or contemplate. While adherents to religions have practiced meditation throughout history, today meditation is a doctor prescribed mainstream component of living better.
The benefits are documented and based in science. These benefits include:
- Stress reduction, including lowering of blood pressure, inflammatory mediators, and improvements in conditions
- Decreases in anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive behaviors, and phobias
- Improvements in emotional wellbeing
- Enhanced self awareness & mindfulness
- Increased mental acuity, focus, & memory
- Decreased age related memory loss.
Sounds great, right? Why wouldn’t someone meditate?
Well, for me meditation was hard. As a type “A” personality, the thought of sitting in quiet stillness with no thoughts at all seemed impossible. However, I once had a yoga teacher who said if you truly dislike a pose, that only means your body needs that pose even more. He was right.
I started slowly, with the help of one of the many free meditation apps. It was hard to find the extra time in the day. Suggestions included waking up earlier, or taking time before bed, but as a single mom and full time anesthesiologist up and out the door before 6:30 am, earlier was not an option, and attempts before bed only led to falling asleep after one minute. Generally, anesthesiologists were given 30 minutes out of the Operating Room for lunch. I chose to take a portion of that time to meditate.
Using the meditation app Simply Being, and starting with 5 minutes, I would sit outside in the sun, or in a quiet hallway and go through a guided meditation before resuming work. The results were amazing—I returned to my job calmer, with a renewed sense of purpose, and with less anxiety. My colleagues even started to notice how Zen I was. Even though I have traded the high stress of the OR for the stress of being a small business owner, I find I am happier, more balanced, and less anxious when I carve out 10-15 minutes a day for mindfulness.
So if this type “A” person can embrace meditation, so can you! You may even be mediating and not even know it. If you have entered a state of mind where it is easy to focus on one thing only, you are meditating. Gardening, walking, and running are accessible forms of moving meditation. Mantra meditation involves stillness while mentally repeating words, phrases or chants. The phrase “Soham” in Sanskrit translates to “I am that” and identifies oneself with the universe. Sit quietly and repeat to yourself “So Ham” slowly, focusing on those words and your breath, and you can’t help but feel calm and at peace. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing attention to your stressors, accept, allow surrender and release them into the universe.
I now can create a peaceful sanctuary in my own mind. How it happens, be it with a guided app, moving, or mantra depends on the day, my stress level, and mindset. Meditation is without judgment—there is no right or wrong way to do it. The how or why you choose to meditate doesn’t matter; it is the resulting life changing benefits that do.
Be mindful & well,